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IChc litie perctoal 
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Children's Books 














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THE WISE PRINCESS . > . . . -175 




1. Frontispiece. 







OF ARASMON " . 43 





JOAN" 79 

11. THE PRINCE AND THE WIZARD .... To face 87 






15. THE PEDLAR AND THE DONKEY .... To face 131 

16. TAILPIECE 139 


18. THE IMP AND THE BAKER To face 141 

19. TAILPIECE 156 



22. TAILPIECE 174 



25. TAILPIECE 184 

NCE there lived a King, whose 
wife was dead, but who had 
a most beautiful daughter 
so beautiful that every one 
thought she must be good 
as well, instead of which the 
Princess was really very wicked, and practised 
witchcraft and black magic, which she had 
learned from an old witch who lived in a hut 
on the side of a lonely mountain. This old 
witch was wicked and hideous, and no one but 
the King's daughter knew that she lived there ; 
but at night, when every one else was asleep, 
the Princess, whose name was Fiorimonde, 
used to visit her by stealth to learn sorcery. 


It was only the witch's arts which had made 
Fiorimonde so beautiful that there was no one 
like her in the world, and in return the Princess 
helped her with all her tricks, and never told 
any one she was there. 

The time came when the King began to 
think he should like his daughter to marry, so 
he summoned his council and said, "We have 
no son to reign after our death, so we had best 
seek for a suitable prince to marry to our royal 
daughter, and then, when we are too old, he 
shall be king in our stead." And all the 
council said he was very wise, and it would be 
well for the Princess to marry. So heralds 
were sent to all the neighbouring kings and 
princes to say that the King would choose a 
husband for the Princess, who should be king 
after him. But when Fiorimonde heard this 
she wept with rage, for she knew quite well 
that if she had a husband he would find out 
how she went to visit the old witch, and would 
stop her practising magic, and then she would 
lose her beauty. 

When night came, and every one in the 


palace was fast asleep, the Princess went to her 
bedroom window and softly opened it. Then 
she took from her pocket a handful of peas and 
held them out of the window and chirruped low, 
and there flew down from the roof a small 
brown bird and sat upon her wrist and began 
to eat the peas. No sooner had it swallowed 
them than it began to grow and grow and grow 
till it was so big that the Princess could not 
hold it, but let it stand on the window-sill, and 
still it grew and grew and grew till it was as 
large as an ostrich. Then the Princess climbed 
out of the window and seated herself on the 
bird's back, and at once it flew straight away 
over the tops of the trees till it came to the 
mountain where the old witch dwelt, and 
stopped in front of the door of her hut. 

The Princess jumped off, and muttered 
some words through the keyhole, when a 
croaking voice from within called, 

" Why do you come to-night ? Have I not 
told you I wished to be left alone for thirteen 
nights ; why do you disturb me ? " 

" But I beg of you to let me in," said the 


Princess, "for I am in trouble and want your 

"Come in then," said the voice; and the 
door flew open, and the Princess trod into the 
hut, in the middle of which, wrapped in a gray 
cloak which almost hid her, sat the witch. 
Princess Fiorimonde sat down near her, and 
told her, her story. How the King wished her 
to marry, and had sent word to the neigh- 
bouring princes, that they might make offers 
for her. 

"This is truly bad hearing," croaked the 
witch, " but we shall beat them yet ; and 
you must deal with each Prince as he comes. 
Would you like them to become dogs, to come 
at your call, or birds, to fly in the air, and sing 
of your beauty, or will you make them all into 
beads, the beads of such a necklace as never 
woman wore before, so that they may rest 
upon your neck, and you may take them with 
you always." 

"The necklace! the necklace!" cried the 
Princess, clapping her hands with joy. " That 
will be best of all, to sling them upon a string 


and wear them around my throat. Little will 
the colirtiers know whence come my new 

"But this is a dangerous play," quoth the 
witch, "for, unless you are very careful, you 
yourself may become a bead and hang upon the 
string with the others, and there you will re- 
main till some one cuts the string, and draws 
you off." 

" Nay, never fear," said the Princess, " I will 
be careful, only tell me what to do, and I will 
have great princes and kings to adorn me, and 
all their greatness shall not help them." 

Then the witch dipped her hand into a 
black bag which stood on the ground beside 
her, and drew out a long gold thread. 

The ends were joined together, but no one 
could see the joins, and however much you 
pulled, it would not break. It would easily go 
over Fiorimonde's head, and the witch slipped 
it on her neck saying, 

" Now mind, while this hangs here you are 
safe enough, but if once you join your fingers 
around the string you too will meet the fate of 


your lovers, and hang upon it yourself. As for* 
the kings and princes who would marry you, all 
you have to do is to make them close their 
fingers around the chain, and at once they 
will be strung upon it as bright hard beads, 
and there they shall remain, till it is cut and 
they drop off." 

"This is really delightful," cried the Prin- 
cess; "and I am already quite impatient for 
the first to come that I may try." 

"And now, M said the witch, "since you 
are here, and there is yet time, we will have a 
dance, and I will summon the guests." So 
saying, she took from a corner a drum and a 
pair of drum-sticks, and going to the door, 
began to beat upon it. It made a terjrible 
rattling. In a moment came flying through 
the air all sorts of forms. There were little 
dark elves with long tails, and goblins who 
chattered and laughed, and other witches who 
rode on broom-sticks. There was one wicked 
fairy in the form of a large cat, with bright 
green eyes, and another came sliding in like a 
long shining viper. 


Then, when all had arrived, the witch 
stopped drumming, and, going to the middle of 
the hut, stamped on the floor, and a trap-door 
opened in the ground. The old witch stepped 
through it, and led the way down a narrow dark 
passage, to a large underground chamber, and 
all her strange guests followed, and here they 
all danced and made merry in a terrible way, 
but at first sound of cock-crow all the guests 
disappeared with a whiff, and the Princess 
hastened up the dark passage again, and out of 
the hut to where her big bird still waited for 
her, and mounting its back she flew home in a 
trice. Then, when she had stepped in at her 
bedroom window, she poured into a cup from 
a small black bottle, a few drops of magic water, 
and gave it to the bird to drink, and as it sipped 
it grew smaller, and smaller, till at last it had 
quite regained its natural size, and hopped on to 
the roof as before, and the Princess shut her 
window, and got into bed, and fell asleep, and 
no one knew of her strange journey, or where 
she had been. 

Next day Fiorimonde declared to her father 


the King, that she was quite willing to wed any 
prince he should fix upon as a husband for her, 
at which he was much pleased, and soon after 
informed her, that a young king was coming 
from over the sea to be her husband. He was 
king of a large rich country, and would take 
back his bride with him to his home. He was 
called King Pierrot. Great preparations were 
made for his arrival, and the Princess was 
decked in her finest array to greet him, and 
when he came all the courtiers said, "This is 
truly a proper husband for our beautiful Prin- 
cess," for he was strong and handsome, with 
black hair, and eyes like sloes. King Pierrot 
was delighted with Fiorimonde's beauty, and was 
happy as the day is long ; and all things went 
merrily till the evening before the marriage. 
A great feast was held, at which the Princess 
looked lovelier than ever dressed in a red gown, 
the colour of the inside of a rose, but she wore 
no jewels nor ornaments of any kind, save one 
shining gold string round her milk-white throat. 
When the feast was done, the Princess 
stepped from her golden chair at her father's 


side, and walked softly into the garden, and 
stood under an elm-tree looking at the shining 
moon. In a few moments King Pierrot followed 
her, and stood beside her, looking at her and 
wondering at her beauty. 

"To-morrow, then, my sweet Princess, you 
will be my Queen, and share all I possess. 
What gift would you wish me to give you on 
our wedding day ?" 

" I would have a necklace wrought of the 
finest gold and jewels to be found, and just the 
length of this gold cord which I wear around 
my throat," answered Princess Fiorimonde. 

"Why do you wear that cord ?" asked King 
Pierrot; " it has no jewel nor ornament about it" 

" Nay, but there is no cord like mine in all 
the world," cried Fiorimonde, and her eyes 
sparkled wickedly as she spoke ; " it is as light 
as a feather, but stronger than an iron chain. 
Take it in both hands and try to break it, that 
you may see how strong it is ; " and King 
Pierrot took the cord in both hands to pull it 
hard ; but no sooner were his fingers closed 
around it than he vanished like a puff of smoke, 


and on the cord appeared a bright, beautiful 
bead so bright and beautiful as was never 
bead before clear as crystal, but shining with 
all colours green, blue, and gold. 

Princess Fiorimonde gazed down at it and 
laughed aloud. 

" Aha, my proud lover ! are you there ?" she 
cried with glee ; " my necklace bids fair to beat 
all others in the world," and she caressed the 
bead with the tips of her soft, white fingers, but 
was careful that they did not close round the 
string. Then she returned into the banqueting 
hall, and spoke to the King. 

"Pray, sire," said she, "send some one at 
once to find King Pierrot, for, as he was talking 
to me a minute ago, he suddenly left me, and I 
am afraid lest I may have given him offence, or 
perhaps he is ill. 

The King desired that the servants should 
seek for King Pierrot all over the grounds, and 
seek him they did, but nowhere was he to be 
found, and the old King looked offended. 

"Doubtless he will be ready to-morrow in 
time for the wedding," quoth he, " but we are 


not best pleased that he should treat us in this 


Princess Fiorimonde had a little maid called 
Yolande. She was a bright-faced girl with 
merry brown eyes, but she was not beautiful 
like Fiorimonde, and she did not love her 
mistress, for she was afraid of her, and sus- 
pected her of her wicked ways. When she 
undressed her that night she noticed the 
gold cord, and the one bright bead upon 
it, and as she combed the Princess's hair 
she looked over her shoulder into the look- 
ing-glass, and saw how she laughed, and 
how fondly she looked at the cord, and 
caressed the bead, again and again with her 

" That is a wonderful bead on your High- 
ness's cord," said Yolande, looking at its reflec- 
tion in the mirror ; " surely it must be a bridal 
gift from King Pierrot." 

"And so it is, little Yolande," cried Fiori- 
monde, laughing merrily ; " and the best gift 
he could give me. But I think one bead alone 
looks ugly and ungainly ; soon I hope I shall 


have another, and another, and another, all as 
beautiful as the first" 

Then Yolande shook her head, and said to 
herself, " This bodes no good." 

Next morning all was prepared for the 
marriage, and the Princess was dressed in 
white satin and pearls with a long white lace 
veil over her, and a bridal wreath on her head, 
and she stood waiting among her grandly 
dressed ladies, who all said that such a beauti- 
ful bride had never been seen in the world 
before. But just as they were preparing to go 
down to the fine company in the hall, a 
messenger came in great haste summoning the 
Princess at once to her father the King, as he 
was much perplexed. 

" My daughter," cried he, as Fiorimonde in 
all her bridal array entered the room where he 
sat alone, " what can we do ? King Pierrot is 
nowhere to be found ; I fear lest he may have 
been seized by robbers and basely murdered for 
his rich clothes, or carried away to some 
mountain and left there to starve. My soldiers 
are gone far and wide to seek him and we 


shall hear of him ere day is done but where 
there is no bridegroom there can be no bridal." 

" Then let it be put off, my father," cried the 
Princess, " and to-morrow we shall know if it is 
for a wedding, or a funeral, we must dress ;" and 
she pretended to weep, but even then could 
hardly keep from laughing. 

So the wedding guests went away, and the 
Princess laid aside her bridal dress, and all 
waited anxiously for news of King Pierrot ; and 
no news came. So at last every one gave him 
up for dead, and mourned for him, and wondered 
how he had met his fate. 

Princess Fiorimonde put on a black gown, 
and begged to be allowed to live in seclusion for 
one month in which to grieve for King Pierrot ; 
but when she was again alone in her bedroom 
she sat before her looking-glass and laughed till 
tears ran down her cheeks ; and Yolande 
watched her, and trembled, when she heard her 
laughter She noticed, too, that beneath her 
black gown, the Princess still wore her gold 
cord, and did not move it night or day. 

The month had barely passed away when 


the King came to his daughter, and announced 
that another suitor had presented himself, whom 
he should much like to be her husband. The 
Princess agreed quite obediently to all her 
father said ; and it was arranged that the marri- 
age should take place. This new prince was 
called Prince Hildebrandt. He came from a 
country far north, of which one day he would be 
king. He was tall, and fair, and strong, with 
flaxen hair and bright blue eyes. When Prin- 
cess Fiorimonde saw his portrait she was much 
pleased, and said, " By all means let him come, 
and the sooner the better." So she put off her 
black clothes, and again great preparations were 
made for a wedding; and King Pierrot was 
quite forgotten. 

Prince Hildebrandt came, and with him 
many fine gentlemen, and they brought beautiful 
gifts for the bride. The evening of his arrival 
all went well, and again there was a grand feast, 
and Fiorimonde looked so beautiful that Prince 
Hildebrandt was delighted ; and this time she 
did not leave her father's side, but sat by him 
all the evening. 


Early next morning at sunrise, when every 
one was still sleeping, the Princess rose, and 
dressed herself in a plain white gown, and 
brushed all her hair over her shoulders, and 
crept quietly downstairs into the palace gardens ; 
then she walked on till she came beneath the 
window of Prince Hildebrandt's room, and here 
she paused and began to sing a little song as 
sweet and joyous as a lark's. When Prince 
Hildebrandt heard it he got up and went to the 
window and looked out to see who sang, and 
when he saw Fiorimonde standing in the red 
sunrise-light, which made her hair look gold, and 
her face rosy, he made haste to dress himself 
and go down to meet her. 

" How, my Princess," cried he, as he stepped 
into the garden beside her. " This is indeed 
great happiness to meet you here so early. Tell 
me why do you come out at sunrise to sing by 

" I come that I may see the colours of 
the sky red, blue, and gold," answered the 
Princess. " Look, there are no such colours 
to be seen anywhere, unless, indeed, it be 


in this bead which I wear here on my golden 

"What is that bead, and where did it come 
from ?" asked Hildebrandt. 

"It came from over the sea, where it shall 
never return again," answered the Princess. 
And again her eyes began to sparkle with 
eagerness, and she could scarcely conceal her 
mirth. "Lift the cord off my neck and look 
at it near, and tell me if you ever saw one 
like it." 

Hildebrandt put out his hands and took 
hold of the cord, but no sooner were his fingers 
closed around it than he vanished, and a new 
bright bead was slung next to the first one on 
Fiorimonde's chain, and this one was even 
more beautiful than the other. 

The Princess gave a long low laugh, quite 
terrible to hear. 

" Oh, my sweet necklace," cried she, " how 
beautiful you are growing ! I think I love you 
more than anything in the world besides." 
Then she went softly back to bed, without any 
one hearing her, and fell sound asleep, and slept 


till Yolande came to tell her it was time for her 
to get up and dress for the wedding. 

The Princess was dressed in gorgeous 
clothes, and only Yolande noticed that beneath 
her satin gown, she wore the golden cord, but 
now there were two beads upon it instead of 
one. Scarcely was she ready when the King 
burst into her room in a towering rage. 

" My daughter," cried he, " there is a plot 
against us. Lay aside your bridal attire and 
think no more of Prince Hildebrandt, for he 
too has disappeared, and is nowhere to be 

At this the Princess wept, and entreated 
that Hildebrandt should be sought for far and 
near, but she laughed to herself, and said, 
" Search where you will, yet you shall not find 
him ;" and so again a great search was made, 
and when no trace of the Prince was found, all 
the palace was in an uproar. 

The Princess again put off her bride's dress 

and clad herself in black, and sat alone, and 

pretended to weep, but Yolande, who watched 

her, shook her head, and said, " More will come 



and go before the wicked Princess has done 
her worst." 

A month passed, in which Fiorimonde 
pretended to mourn for Hildebrandt, then she 
went to the King and said, 

" Sire, I pray that you will not let people 
say that when any bridegroom comes to marry 
me, as soon as he has seen me he flies rather 
than be my husband. I beg that suitors may 
be summoned from far and near that I may not 
be left alone unwed." 

The King agreed, and envoys were sent all 
the world over to bid any who would come and 
be the husband of Princess Fiorimonde. And 
come they did, kings and princes from south 
and north, east and west, King Adrian, Prince 
Sigbert, Prince Algar, and many more, but 
though all went well till the wedding morning, 
when it was time to go to church, no bride- 
groom was to be found. The old King was 
sadly frightened, and would fain have given up 
all hope of rinding a husband for the Princess, 
but now she implored him, with tears in her 
eyes, not to let her be disgraced in this way. 


And so suitor after suitor continued to come, and 
now it was known, far and wide, that whoever 
came to ask for the hand of Princess Fiori- 
monde vanished, and was seen no more of men. 
The courtiers were afraid and whispered under 
their breath, "It is not all right, it cannot be ;" 
but only Yolande noticed how the beads came 
upon the golden thread, till it was well-nigh 
covered, yet there always was room for one bead 

So the years passed, and every year Princess 
Fiorimonde grew lovelier and lovelier, so that no 
one who saw her could guess how wicked she 

In a far off country lived a young prince 
whose name was Florestan. He had a dear 
friend named Gervaise, whom he loved better 
than any one in the world. Gervaise was tall, 
and broad, and stout of limb, and he loved 
Prince Florestan so well, that he would gladly 
have died to serve him. 

It chanced that Prince Florestan saw a 
portrait of Princess Fiorimonde, and at once 
swore he would go to her father's court, and 


beg that he might have her for his wife, and 
Gervaise in vain tried to dissuade him. 

"There is an evil fate about the Princess 
Fiorimonde," quoth he; "many have gone to 
marry her, but where are they now ?" 

" I don't know or care," answered Florestan, 
" but this is sure, that I will wed her and return 
here, and bring my bride with me." 

So he set out for Fiorimonde's home, and 
Gervaise went with him with a heavy heart. 

When they reached the court, the old King 
received them and welcomed them warmly, and 
he said to his courtiers, " Here is a fine young 
prince to whom we would gladly see our 
daughter wed. Let us hope that this time all 
will be well." But now Fiorimonde had grown 
so bold, that she scarcely tried to conceal her 

" I will gladly marry him to-morrow, if he 
comes to the church," she said ; " but if he is 
not there, what can I do," and she laughed 
long and merrily, till those who heard her shud- 

When the Princess's ladies came to tell her 


that Prince Florestan was arrived, she was in 
the garden, lying on the marble edge of a 
fountain, feeding the gold fish who swam in the 

" Bid him come to me," she said, " for I 
will not go any more in state to meet any 
suitors, neither will I put on grand attire for 
them. Let him come and find me as I am, 
since all find it so easy to come and go." So 
her ladies told the prince that Fiorimonde 
waited for him near the fountain. 

She did not rise when he came to where 
she lay, but his heart bounded with joy, for he 
had never in his life beheld such a beautiful 

She wore a thin soft white dress, which clung 
to her lithe figure. Her beautiful arms and 
hands were bare, and she dabbled with them in 
the water, and played with the fish. Her great 
blue eyes were sparkling with mirth, and were 
so beautiful, that no one noticed the wicked look 
hid in them ; and on her neck lay the mar- 
vellous many-coloured necklace, which was itself 
a wonder to behold. 


" You have my best greetings, Prince Flores- 
tan," she said. "And you, too, would be my 
suitor. Have you thought well of what you 
would do, since so many princes who have seen 
me have fled for ever, rather than marry me ?" 
and as she spoke, she raised her white hand 
from the water, and held it out to the Prince, 
who stooped and kissed it, and scarcely knew 
how to answer her for bewilderment at her 
great loveliness. 

Gervaise followed his master at a short 
distance, but he was ill at ease, and trembled 
for fear of what should come. 

"Come, bid your friend leave us," said 
Fiorimonde, looking at Gervaise, " and sit be- 
side me, and tell me of your home, and why 
you wish to marry me, and all pleasant things." 

Florestan begged that Gervaise would leave 
them for a little, and he walked slowly away, 
in a very mournful mood. 

He went on down the walks, not heeding 
where he was going, till he met Yolande, who 
stood beneath a tree laden with rosy apples, 
picking the fruit, and throwing it into a basket 


at her feet. He would have passed her in 
silence, but she stopped him, and said, 

" Have you come with the new Prince ? 
Do you love your master ?" 

" Ay, better than any one else on the earth," 
answered Gervaise. " Why do you ask ?" 

" And where is he now," said Yolande, not 
heeding Gervaise's question. 

"He sits by the fountain with the beautiful 
Princess," said Gervaise. 

" Then, I hope you have said good-bye to 
him well, for be assured you shall never see 
him again," said Yolande nodding her head. 

"Why not, and who are you to talk like 
this ?" asked Gervaise. 

" My name is Yolande," answered she, " and 
I am Princess Fiorimonde's maid. Do you not 
know that Prince Florestan is the eleventh 
lover who has come to marry her, and one by 
one they have disappeared, and only I know 
where they are gone." 

"And where are they gone ?" cried Gervaise, 
" and why do you not tell the world, and prevent 
good men being lost like this ?" 


" Because I fear my mistress," said Yolande, 
speaking low and drawing near to him ; " she 
is a sorceress, and she wears the brave kings 
and princes who come to woo her, strung upon a 
cord round her neck. Each one forms the bead 
of a necklace which she wears, both day and night. 
I have watched that necklace growing ; first it 
was only an empty gold thread ; then came 
King Pierrot, and when he disappeared the first 
bead appeared upon it. Then came Hilde- 
brandt, and two beads were on the string instead 
of one ; then followed Adrian, Sigbert, and 
Algar, and Cenred, and Pharamond, and Bald- 
wyn, and Leofric, and Raoul, and all are gone, 
and ten beads hang upon the string, and to- 
night there will be eleven, and the eleventh 
will be your Prince Florestan." 

" If this be so," cried Gervaise, " I will 
never rest till I have plunged my sword into 
Fiorimonde's heart;" but Yolande shook her 

" She is a sorceress," she said, " and it might 
be hard to kill her; besides, that might not 
break the spell, and bring back the princes to 


life. I wish I could show you the necklace, 
and you might count the beads, and see if I do 
not speak truth, but it is always about her neck, 
both night and day, so it is impossible." 

"Take me to her room to-night when 
she is asleep, and let me see it there," said 

" Very well, we will try," said Yolande ; " but 
you must be very still, and make no noise, for 
if she wakes, remember it will be worse for us 

When night came and all in the palace were 
fast asleep, Gervaise and Yolande met in the 
great hall, and Yolande told him that the 
Princess slumbered soundly. 

" So now let us go," said she, " and I will 
show you the necklace on which Fiorimonde 
wears her lovers strung like beads, though how 
she transforms them I know not." 

" Stay one instant, Yolande," said Gervaise, 
holding her back, as she would have tripped 
upstairs. " Perhaps, try how I may, I shall be 
beaten, and either die or become a bead like 
those who have come before me. But if I 


succeed and rid the land of your wicked Prin- 
cess, what will you promise me for a reward ?" 

"What would you have ?" asked Yolande. 

" I would have you say you will be my wife, 
and come back with me to my own land," said 

" That I will promise gladly," said Yolande, 
kissing him, " but we must not speak or think 
of this till we have cut the cord from Fiori- 
monde's neck, and all her lovers are set free." 

So they went softly up to the Princess's 
room, Yolande holding a small lantern, which 
gave only a dim light. There, in her grand 
bed, lay Princess Fiorimonde. They could just 
see her by the lantern's light, and she looked so 
beautiful that Gervaise began to think Yolande 
spoke falsely, when she said she was so wicked. 

Her face was calm and sweet as a baby's ; 
her hair fell in ruddy waves on the pillow ; her 
rosy lips smiled, and little dimples showed in 
her cheeks ; her white soft hands were folded 
amidst the scented lace and linen of which the 
bed was made. Gervaise almost forgot to look 
at the glittering beads hung round her throat^ 


in wondering at her loveliness, but Yolande 
pulled him by the arm. 

" Do not look at her," she whispered softly, 
" since her beauty has cost dear already ; look 
rather at what remains of those who thought 
her as fair as you do now ; see here," and she 
pointed with her finger to each bead in turn. 

" This was Pierrot, and this Hildebrandt, 
and these are Adrian, and Sigbert, and Algar, 
and Cenred, and that is Pharamond, and that 
Raoul, and last of all here is your own master 
Prince Florestan. Seek him now where you will 
and you will not find him, and you shall never 
see him again till the cord is cut and the charm 

"Of what is the cord made?" whispered 

" It is of the finest gold," she answered. 
"Nay, do not you touch her lest she wake. 
I will show it to you." And Yolande put down 
the lantern and softly put out her hands to slip 
the beads aside, but as she did so, her fingers 
closed around the golden string, and directly she 
was gone. Another bead was added to the 


necklace, and Gervaise was alone with the sleep- 
ing Princess. He gazed about him in sore 
amazement and fear. He dared not call lest 
Fiorimonde should wake. 

"Yolande," he whispered as loud as he 
dared, " Yolande where are you ?" but no Yo- 
lande answered. 

Then he bent down over the Princess and 
gazed at the necklace. Another bead was 
strung upon it next to the one to which Yolande 
had pointed as Prince Florestan. Again he 
counted them. " Eleven before, now there are 
twelve. Oh hateful Princess ! I know now 
where go the brave kings and princes who came 
to woo you, and where, too, is my Yolande," and 
as he looked at the last bead, tears filled his eyes. 
It was brighter and clearer than the others, and 
of a warm red hue, like the red dress Yolande 
had worn. The Princess turned and laughed in 
her sleep, and at the sound of her laughter 
Gervaise was filled with horror and loathing. 
He crept shuddering from the room, and all night 
long sat up alone, plotting how he might defeat 
Fiorimonde, and set Florestan and Yolande free. 

"Next morning when Fiorimonde dressed she looked at her necklace and counted its 
beads, but she was much perplexed, for a new bead was added to the string." p. 29. 


Next morning when Fiorimonde dressed she 
looked at her necklace and counted its beads, 
but she was much perplexed, for a new bead was 
added to the string. 

" Who can have come and grasped my 
chain unknown to me ?" she said to herself, and 
she sat and pondered for a long time. At last 
she broke into weird laughter. 

" At any rate, whoever it was, is fitly pun- 
ished," quoth she. " My brave necklace, you 
can take care of yourself, and if any one tries to 
steal you, they will get their reward, and add to 
my glory. In truth I may sleep in peace, and 
fear nothing." 

The day passed away and no one missed 
Yolande. Towards sunset the rain began to 
pour in torrents, and there was such a terrible 
thunderstorm that every one was frightened. 
The . thunder roared, the lightning gleamed 
flash after flash, every moment it grew fiercer 
and fiercer. The sky was so dark that, save 
for the lightning's light, nothing could be seen, 
but Princess Fiorimonde loved the thunder and 


She sat in a room high up in one of the 
towers, clad in a black velvet dress, and she 
watched the lightning from the window, and 
laughed at each peal of thunder. In the midst 
of the storm a stranger, wrapped in a cloak, 
rode to the palace door, and the ladies ran to 
tell the Princess that a new prince had come to 
be her suitor. " And he will not tell his name," 
said they, " but says he hears that all are bidden 
to ask for the hand of Princess Fiorimonde, 
and he too would try his good fortune." 

" Let him come at once," cried the Princess. 
" Be he prince or knave what care I ? If 
princes all fly from me it may be better to 
marry a peasant." 

So they led the new-comer up to the room 
where Fiorimonde sat. He was wrapped in a 
thick cloak, but he flung it aside as he came in, 
and showed how rich was his silken clothing 
underneath ; and so well was he disguised, that 
Fiorimonde never saw that it was Gervaise, but 
looked at him, and thought she had never seen 
him before. 

"You are most welcome, stranger prince, 


who has come through such lightning and thun- 
der to find me," said she. "Is it true, then, that 
you wish to be my suitor ? What have you 
heard of me ? " 

"It is quite true, Princess," said Gervaise. 
" And I have heard that you are the most beau- 
tiful woman in the world." 

" And is that true also?" asked the Princess. 
" Look at me now, and see." 

Gervaise looked at her and in his heart he 
said, "It is quite true, oh wicked Princess ! 
There never was woman as beautiful as you, 
and never before did I hate a woman as I hate 
you now ;" but aloud he said, 

" No, Princess, that is not true; you are very 
beautiful, but I have seen a woman who is fairer 
than you for all that your skin looks ivory against 
your velvet dress, and your hair is like gold." 

" A woman who is fairer than I ? " cried 
Fiorimonde, and her breast began to heave and 
her eyes to sparkle with rage, for never before 
had she heard such a thing said. "Who are 
you who dares come and tell me of women 
more beautiful than I am ?" 


"I am a suitor who asks to be your hus- 
band, Princess," answered Gervaise, " but still I 
say I have seen a woman who was fairer than 

" Who is she where is she ? " cried Fiori- 
monde, who could scarcely contain her anger. 
" Bring her here at once that I may see if you 
speak the truth." 

"What will you give me to bring her to 
you ?" said Gervaise. " Give me that necklace 
you wear on your neck, and then I will summon 
her in an instant ; " but Fiorimonde shook her 

"You have asked," said she, "for the only 
thing from which I cannot part," and then she 
bade her maids bring her her jewel-casket, 
and she drew out diamonds, and rubies, and 
pearls, and offered them, all or any, to Gervaise. 
The lightning shone on them and made them 
shine and flash, but he shook his head. 

" No, none of these will do," quoth he. 
"You can see her for the necklace, but for 
nothing else." 

" Take it off for yourself then," cried Fiori- 


monde, who now was so angry that she only 
wished to be rid of Gervaise in any way. 

" No, indeed," said Gervaise, " I am no tire- 
woman, and should not know how to clasp and 
unclasp it ;" and in spite of all Fiorimonde could 
say or do, he would not touch either her or the 
magic chain. 

At night the storm grew even fiercer, but 
it did not trouble the Princess. She waited till 
all were asleep, and then she opened her bed- 
room window and chirruped softly to the little 
brown bird, who flew down from the roof at her 
call. Then she gave him a handful of seeds as 
before, and he grew and grew and grew till he 
was as large as an ostrich, and she sat upon his 
back and flew out through the air, laughing at 
the lightning and thunder which flashed and 
roared around her. Away they flew till they 
came to the old witch's cave, and here they 
found the witch sitting at her open door catch- 
ing the lightning to make charms with. 

"Welcome, my dear," croaked she, as Fiori- 
monde stepped from the bird ; " here is a 
night we both love well. And how goes 


the necklace ? right merrily I see. Twelve 
beads already but what is that twelfth ?" and 
she looked at it closely. 

" Nay, that is one thing I want you to tell 
me," said Fiorimonde, drying the rain from her 
golden hair. "Last night when I slept there 
were eleven, and this morning there are twelve; 
and I know not from whence comes the twelfth." 

" It is no suitor," said the witch, " but from 
some young maid, that that bead is made. But 
why should you mind ? It looks well with the 

"Some young maid," said the Princess. 
"Then, it must be Cicely or Marybel, or Yo- 
lande, who would have robbed me of my neck- 
lace as I slept. But what care I ? The silly 
wench is punished now, and so may all others 
be, who would do the same." 

"And when will you get the thirteenth 
bead, and where will he come from ?" asked the 

" He waits at the palace now," said Fiori- 
monde, chuckling. " And this is why I have to 
speak to you;" and then she told the witch of 


the stranger who had come in the storm, and of 
how he would not touch her necklace, nor take 
the cord in his hand, and how he said also that 
he knew a woman fairer than she. 

" Beware, Princess, beware," cried the witch 
in a warning voice, as she listened. "Why 
should you heed tales of other women fairer 
than you ? Have I not made you the most 
beautiful woman in the world, and can any 
others do more than I ? Give no ear to what 
this stranger says or you shall rue it." But 
still the Princess murmured, and said she did 
not love to hear any one speak of others as 
beautiful as she. 

" Be warned in time," cried the witch, " or 
you will have cause to repent it. Are you so 
silly or so vain as to be troubled because a 
Prince says idly what you know is not true ? I 
tell you do not, listen to him, but let him be 
slung to your chain as soon as may be, and 
then he will speak no more." And then they 
talked together of how Fiorimonde could make 
Gervaise grasp the fatal string. 

Next morning when the sun rose, Gervaise 


started off into the woods, and there he plucked 
acorns and haws, and hips, and strung them 
on to a string to form a rude necklace. This 
he hid in his bosom, and then went back to the 
palace without telling any one. 

When the Princess rose, she dressed herself 
as beautifully as she could, and braided her 
golden locks with great care, for this morning 
she meant her new suitor to meet his fate. 
After breakfast, she stepped into the garden, 
where the sun shone brightly, and all looked 
fresh after the storm. Here from the grass 
she picked up a golden ball, and began to play 
with it. 

"Go to our new guest," cried she to her 
ladies, " and ask him to come here and play at 
ball with me." So they went, and soon they 
returned bringing Gervaise with them. 

" Good morrow, prince," cried she. " Pray, 
come and try your skill at this game with me ; 
and you," she said to her ladies, " do not wait 
to watch our play, but each go your way, and 
do what pleases you best." So they all went 
away, and left her alone with Gervaise. 


" Well, prince," cried she as they began to 
play, "what do you think of me by morning 
light ? Yesterday when you came it was so 
dark, with thunder and clouds, that you could 
scarcely see my face, but now that there is 
bright sunshine, pray look well at me, and see 
if you do not think me as beautiful as any 
woman on earth," and she smiled at Gervaise, 
and looked so lovely as she spoke, that he 
scarce knew how to answer her ; but he re- 
membered Yolande, and said, 

" Doubtless you are very beautiful ; then why 
should you mind my telling you that I have 
seen a woman lovelier than you ?" 

At this the Princess again began to be 
angry, but she thought of the witch's words and 

" Then, if you think there is a woman fairer 
than I, look at my beads, and now, that you see 
their colours in the sun, say if you ever saw 
such jewels before." 

"It is true I have never seen beads like 
yours, but I have a necklace here, which 
pleases me better;" and from his pocket he 


drew the haws and acorns, which he had strung 

" What is that necklace, and where did you 
get it? Show it to me!" cried Fiorimonde; 
but Gervaise held it out of her reach, and 

" I like my necklace better than yours, 
Princess ; and, believe me, there is no necklace 
like mine in all the world." 

" Why ; is it a fairy necklace ? What does 
it do ? Pray give it to me !" cried Fiorimonde, 
trembling with anger and curiosity, for she 
thought, " Perhaps it has power to make the 
wearer beautiful ; perhaps it was worn by the 
woman whom he thought more beautiful than I, 
and that is why she looked so fair." 

" Come, I will make a fair exchange," said 
Gervaise. "Give me your necklace and you 
shall have mine, and when it is round your 
throat I will truthfully say that you are the 
fairest woman in the world; but first I must 
have your necklace." 

" Take it, then," cried the Princess, who, in 
her rage and eagerness, forgot all else, and she 

" Then he picked up the necklace on the point of his sword and carried it, slung thereon, 
into the council chamber." p. 39. 


seized the string of beads to lift it from her 
neck, but no sooner had she taken it in her 
hands than they fell with a rattle to the earth, 
and Fiorimonde herself was nowhere to be seen. 
Gervaise bent down over the necklace as it lay 
upon the grass, and, with a smile, counted 
thirteen beads; and he knew that the thirteenth 
was the wicked Princess, who had herself met 
the evil fate she had prepared for so many 

"Oh, clever Princess!" cried he, laughing 
aloud, " you are not so very clever, I think, to 
be so easily outwitted." Then he picked up 
the necklace on the point of the sword and 
carried it, slung thereon, into the council cham- 
ber, where sat the King surrounded by states- 
men and courtiers busy with state affairs. 

" Pray, King," said Gervaise, " send some 
one to seek for Princess Fiorimonde. A 
moment ago she played with me at ball in the 
garden, and now she is nowhere to be seen." 

The King desired that servants should seek 
her Royal Highness; but they came back saying 
she was not to be found. 


" Then let me see if I cannot bring her to 
you ; but first let those who have been longer 
lost than she, come and tell their own tale." 
And, so saying, Gervaise let the necklace slip 
from his sword on to the floor, and taking from 
his breast a sharp dagger, proceeded to cut the 
golden thread on which the beads were strung 
and as he clave it in two there came a mighty 
noise like a clap of thunder. 

"Now;" cried he, "look, and see King 
Pierrot who was lost," and as he spoke he drew 
from the cord a bead, and King Pierrot, in his 
royal clothes, with his sword at his side, stood 
before them. 

"Treachery!" he cried, but ere he could 
say more Gervaise had drawn off another bead, 
and King Hildebrandt appeared, and after him 
came Adrian, and Sigbert, and Algar, and 
Cenred, and Pharamond, and Raoul, and last 
of the princes, Gervaise's own dear master 
Florestan, and they all denounced Princess 
Fiorimonde and her wickedness. 

"And now," cried Gervaise, "here is she 
who has helped to save you all," and he drew 


off the twelfth bead, and there stood Yolande 
in her red dress; and when he saw her Gervaise 
flung away his dagger and took her in his arms, 
and they wept for joy. 

The King and all the courtiers sat pale 
and trembling, unable to speak for fear and 
shame. At length the King said with a deep 

" We owe you deep amends, O noble kings 
and princes ! What punishment do you wish us 
to prepare for our most guilty daughter ? " but 
here Gervaise stopped him, and said, 

"Give her no other punishment than what 
she has chosen for herself. See, here she is, 
the thirteenth bead upon the string ; let no one 
dare to draw it off, but let this string be hung 
up where all people can see it and see the one 
bead, and know the wicked Princess is punished 
for her sorcery, so it will be a warning to others 
who would do like her." 

So they lifted the golden thread with great 
care and hung it up outside the town-hall, and 
there the one bead glittered and gleamed in the 
sunlight, and all who saw it knew that it was 


the wicked Princess Fiorimonde who had justly 
met her fate. 

Then all the kings and princes thanked 
Gervaise and Yolande, and loaded them with 
presents, and each went to his own land. 

And Gervaise married Yolande, and they 
went back with Prince Florestan to their home, 
and all lived happily to the end of their lives. 

ONG ago there lived a wan- 
dering musician and his wife, 
whose names were Arasmon 
and Chrysea. Arasmon 
played upon a lute to which 
Chrysea sang, and their 
music was so beautiful that people followed 
them in crowds and gave them as much money 
as they wanted. When Arasmon played all 
who heard him were silent from wonder and 
admiration, but when Chrysea sang they could 
riot refrain from weeping, for her voice was 
more beautiful than anything they had ever 
heard before. 

Both were young and lovely, and were as 
happy as the day was long, for they loved each 


other dearly, and liked wandering about seeing 
new countries and people and making sweet 
music. They went to all sorts of places, some- 
times to big cities, sometimes to little villages, 
sometimes to lonely cottages by the sea-shore, 
and sometimes they strolled along the green 
lanes and fields, singing and playing so exquis- 
itely, that the very birds flew down from the 
trees to listen to them. 

One day they crossed a dark line of hills, 
and came out on a wild moorland country, 
where they had never been before. On the 
side of the hill they saw a little village, and at 
once turned towards it, but as they drew near 
Chrysea said, 

" What gloomy place is this ? See how 
dark and miserable it looks." 

" Let us try to cheer it with some music," 
said Arasmon, and began to play upon his lute, 
while Chrysea sang. One by one the villagers 
came out of their cottages and gathered round 
them to listen, but Chrysea thought she had 
never before seen such forlorn-looking people. 
They were thin and bent, their faces were pale 

" One by one the villagers came out of their cottages, and gathered round them to 
listen." P. 44. 


and haggard, also their clothes looked old and 
threadbare, and in some places were worn into 
holes. But they crowded about Arasmon and 
Chrysea, and begged them to go on playing and 
singing, and as they listened the women shed 
tears, and the men hid their faces and were 
silent. When they stopped, the people began 
to feel in their pockets as if to find some coins, 
but Arasmon cried, 

" Nay, good friends, keep your money for 
yourselves. You have not too much of it, to 
judge by your looks. But let us stay with you 
for to-night, and give us food and lodging, and 
we shall think ourselves well paid, and will 
play and sing to you as much as you like." 

" Stay with us as long as you can, stay with 
us always," begged the people ; and each one 
entreated to be allowed to receive the strangers 
and give them the best they had. So Arasmon 
and Chrysea played and sang to them till they 
were tired, and at last, when the heavy rain 
began to fall, they turned towards the village, 
but as they passed through its narrow streets 
they thought the place itself looked even sadder 


than its inmates. The houses were ill-built, 
and seemed to be almost tumbling down. The 
streets were uneven and badly kept. In the 
gardens they saw no flowers, but dank dark 
weeds. They went into a cottage which the 
people pointed out to them, and Arasmon lay 
down by the fire, calling to Chrysea to rest also, 
as they had walked far, and she must be weary. 
He soon fell asleep, but Chrysea sat at the door 
watching the dark clouds as they drifted over 
the darker houses. Outside the cottage hung 
a blackbird in a cage, with drooping wings and 
scanty plumage. It was the only animal they 
had yet seen in the village, for of cats or dogs 
or singing-birds there seemed to be none, 

When she saw it, Chrysea turned to the woman 
of the house, who stood beside her, and said, 

" Why don't you let it go ? It would be 
much happier flying about in the sunshine." 

"The sun never shines here," said the 
woman sadly. "It could not pierce through 
the dark clouds which hang over the village. 
Besides, we do not think of happiness. It is 
as much as we can do to live." 


" But tell me," said Chrysea, " what is it that 
makes you so sad and your village such a 
dreary place ? I have been to many towns in 
my life, but to none which looked like this." 

4 ' Don't you know," said the woman, "that 
this place is spell-bound ?" 

" Spell-bound ? " cried Chrysea. " What do 
you mean ?" 

The woman turned and pointed towards the 
moor. " Over yonder," she said, " dwells a 
terrible old wizard by whom we are bewitched, 
and he has a number of little dark elves who 
are his servants, and these are they who make 
our village what you see it. You don't know 
how sad it is to live here. The elves steal our 
eggs, and milk, and poultry, so that there is 
never enough for us to eat, and we are half- 
starved. They pull down our houses, and 
undo our work as fast as we do it. They steal 
our corn when it is standing in sheaves, so 
that we find nothing but empty husks ; " and 
as she ceased speaking the woman sighed 

" But if they do all this harm," said Chrysea, 


" why do not some of you go to the moor and 
drive them away ? " 

"It is part of the spell," said the woman, 
"that we can neither hear nor see them. I 
have heard my grandfather say that in the old 
time this place was no different to others, but 
one day this terrible old magician came and 
offered the villagers a great deal of money if 
they would let him dwell upon the moor ; for 
before that it was covered with golden gorse 
and heather, and the country folk held all their 
merrymakings there, but they were tempted 
with the gold, and sold it, and from that day 
the elves have tormented us ; and as we can- 
not see them, we cannot get rid of them, but 
must just bear them as best we may." 

" That is a sad way to speak," said Chrysea. 
" Cannot you find out what the spell really is 
and break it ?" 

" It is a song," said the woman, " and every 
night they sing it afresh. It is said that if 
any one could go to the moor between mid- 
night and dawn, and could hear them singing it, 
and then sing through the tune just as they 


themselves do, the charm would be broken, and 
we should be free. But it must be some one 
who has never taken their money, so we cannot 
do it, for we can neither see nor hear them." 

" But I have not taken their money," said 
Chrysea. " And there is no tune I cannot sing 
when I have heard it once. So I will go to the 
moor for you and break the spell." 

" Nay, do not think of such a thing," cried 
the woman. " For the elves are most spiteful, 
and you don't know what harm they might do 
to you, even if you set us free." 

Chrysea said no more, but all the evening 
she thought of what the woman had told her, 
and still stood looking out into the dismal 
street. When she went to bed she did not 
sleep, but lay still till the clock struck one. 
Then she rose softly, and wrapping herself 
in a cloak, opened the door and stepped out 
into the rain. As she passed, she looked up 
and saw the blackbird crouching in the bottom 
of its cage. She opened the cage door to let 
it fly, but still it did not move, so she lifted it 
out in her hand. 



" Poor bird !" said she gently ; " I wish I 
could give this village its liberty as easily as I 
can give you yours," and carrying it with her 
she walked on towards the moor. It was a 
large waste piece of land, and looked as though 
it had been burnt, for the ground was charred 
and black, and there was no grass or green 
plant growing on it, but there were some 
blackened stumps of trees, and to these Chry- 
sea went, and hid herself behind one to wait 
and see what would come. She watched for 
a long time without seeing any one, but at last 
there rose from the ground not far from her a 
lurid gleam, which spread and spread until it 
became a large circle of light, in the midst of 
which she saw small dark figures moving, 
like ugly little men. The light was now so 
bright that she could distinguish each one quite 
plainly, and never before had she seen anything 
so ugly, for they were black as ink, and their 
faces were twisted and looked cruel and wicked. 

They joined hands, and, forming a ring, 
danced slowly round, and, as they did so, the 
ground opened, and there rose up in their centre 


a tiny village exactly like the spell-bound village, 
only that the houses were but a few inches high. 
Round this the elves danced, and then they 
began to sing. Chrysea listened eagerly to 
their singing, and no sooner had they done, 
than she opened her lips and sang the same 
tune through from beginning to end just as she 
had heard it. 

Her voice rang out loud and clear, and at 
the sound the little village crumbled and fell 
away as though it had been made of dust. 

The elves stood silent for a moment, and 
then with a wild cry they all rushed towards 
Chrysea, and at their head she saw one about 
three times the size of the others, who appeared 
to be their chief. 

" Come, quickly, let us punish the woman 
who has dared to thwart us," he cried. " What 
shall we change her to ?" 

" A frog to croak on the ground," cried one. 

" No, an owl to hoot in the night," cried 

"Oh, for pity's sake," implored Chrysea, 
"don't change me to one of these loathsome 


creatures, so that, if Arasmon finds me, he will 
spurn me." 

"Hear her," cried the chief, "and let her 
have her will. Let us change her to no bird or 
beast, but to a bright golden harp, and thus shall 
she remain, until upon her strings some one shall 
play our tune, which she has dared to sing." 

" Agreed !" cried the others, and all began to 
dance round Chrysea and to sing as they had 
sung around the village. She shrieked and 
tried to run, but they stopped her on every side. 
She cried, "Arasmon! Arasmon!" but no one 
came, and when the elves' song was done, and 
they disappeared, all that was left was a little 
gold harp hanging upon the boughs of the tree, 
and only the blackbird who sat above knew 
what had come of poor Chrysea. 

When morning dawned, and the villagers 
awoke, all felt that some great change had taken 
place. The heavy cloud which hung above 
the village had cleared away ; the sun shone 
brightly, and the sky was blue ; streams which 
had been dry for years, were running clear and 
fresh : and the people all felt strong, and able to 


work again ; the trees were beginning to bud, 
and in their branches sang birds, whose voices 
had not been heard there for many a long year. 
The villagers looked from one to another and 
said, " Surely the spell is broken ; surely the 
elves must have fled ;" and they wept for joy. 

Arasmon woke with the first beam of the 
sun, and finding Chrysea was not there, he rose, 
and went to seek her in the village, calling, 
" Chrysea, Chrysea ! the sun is up and we must 
journey on our way ;" but no Chrysea answered, 
so he walked down all the streets, calling 
"Chrysea! come, Chrysea!" but no Chrysea 
came. Then he said, 

" She has gone into the fields to look for 
wild flowers, and will soon be back." So he 
waited for her patiently, but the sun rose high, 
the villagers went to their work, and she did 
not return. At this Arasmon was frightened, 
and asked every one he met if they had seen 
her, but each one shook his head and said " No, 
they had seen nothing of her." 

Then he called some of the men together 
and told them that his wife had wandered away, 


and he feared lest she might lose herself and 
go still farther, and he asked them to help him 
to look for her. So some went one way, and 
some another, to search, and Arasmon himself 
walked for miles the whole country round, call- 
ing " Chrysea ! Chrysea !" but no answer came. 

The sun was beginning to set and twi- 
light to cover the land, when Arasmon came on 
to the moor where Chrysea had met her fate. 
That, too, was changed. Flowers and grass 
were already beginning to grow there, and 
the children of the village, who till now had 
never dared to venture near it, were playing 
about it. Arasmon could hear their voices as he 
came near the tree against which Chrysea had 
leaned, and on which now hung the golden harp. 
In the branches above sat the blackbird singing, 
and Arasmon stopped and listened to its song, 
and thought he had never heard a bird sing so 
sweetly before. For it sang the magic song by 
which Chrysea had broken the elves' spell, the 
first tune it had heard since it regained its liberty. 

" Dear blackbird/' said Arasmon, looking up 
to it, " I wish your singing could tell me where to 


find my wife Chrysea ;" and as he looked up he 
saw a golden harp hanging upon the branches, 
and he took it down and ran his fingers over 
the strings. Never before did harp give forth 
such music. It was like a woman's voice, and 
was most beautiful, but so sad that when Aras- 
mon heard it he felt inclined to cry. It seemed 
to be calling for help, but he could not under- 
stand what it said, though each time he touched 
the strings it cried, " Arasmon, Arasmon, I am 
here! It is I, Chrysea;" but though Arasmon 
listened, and wondered at its tones, yet he did 
not know what it said. 

He examined it carefully. It was a beauti- 
ful little harp, made of pure gold, and at the top 
was a pair of golden hands and arms clasped 

" I will keep it," said Arasmon, " for I never 
yet heard a harp with such a tone, and when 
Chrysea comes she shall sing to it" 

But Chrysea was nowhere to be found, and 
at last the villagers declared she must be lost, 
or herself have gone away on purpose, and 
that it was vain to seek her farther. At this 


Arasmon was angry, and saying that he would 
seek Chrysea as long as he had life, he left the 
village to wander over the whole world till he 
should find her. He went on foot, and took 
with him the golden harp. 

He walked for many, many miles far away 
from the village and the moor, and when he 
came to any farmhouses, or met any country 
people on the road he began to play, and every 
one thronged round him and stared, in breath- 
less surprise at his beautiful music. When he 
had done he would ask them, " Have you seen 
my wife Chrysea ? She is dressed in white and 
gold, and sings more sweetly than any of the 
birds of heaven." 

But all shook their heads and said, " No, she 
had not been there ;" and whenever he came to 
a strange village, where he had not been before, 
he called, " Chrysea, Chrysea, are you here ?" 
but no Chrysea answered, only the harp in his 
hands cried whenever he touched its strings, 
"It is I, Arasmon! It is I, Chrysea!" but 
though he thought its notes like Chrysea's 
voice, he never understood them. 


He wandered for days and months and 
years through countries and villages which he 
had never known before. When night came 
and he found himself in the fields alone, he 
would lie down upon his cloak and sleep with 
his head resting upon the harp, and if by chance 
one of its golden threads was touched it would 
cry, "Arasmon, awake, I am here!" Then he 
would dream that Chrysea was calling him, and 
would wake and start up to look for her, think- 
ing she must be close at hand. 

One day, towards night, when he had walked 
far, and was very tired, he came to a little village 
on a lonely, rocky coast by the sea, and he found 
that a thick mist had come up, and hung over 
the village, so that he could barely see the path 
before him as he walked. But he found his way 
down on to the beach, and there stood a number 
of fisherwomen, trying to look through the mist 
towards the sea, and speaking anxiously. 

"What is wrong, and for whom are you 
watching, good folk ?" ne asked them. 

"We are watching for our husbands," 
answered one. " They went out in their boats 


fishing in the early morning, when it was quite 
light, and then arose this dreadful fog, and they 
should have come back long ago, and we fear 
lest they may lose their way in the darkness 
and strike on a rock and be drowned." 

" I too, have lost my wife Chrysea," cried 
Arasmon. " Has she passed by here ? She 
had long golden hair, and her gown was white 
and gold, and she sang with a voice like an 

The women all said, " No, they had not seen 
her;" but still they strained their eyes towards 
the sea, and Arasmon also began to watch for 
the return of the boats. 

They waited and waited, but they did not 
come, and every moment the darkness grew 
thicker and thicker, so that the women could 
not see each other's faces, though they stood 
quite near together. 

Then Arasmon took his harp and began to 
play, and its music floated over the water for 
miles through the darkness, but the women were 
weeping so for their husbands, that they did 
not heed it 


"It is useless to watch," said one. " They 
cannot steer their boats in such a darkness. 
We shall never see them again." 

" I will wait all night till morning," said 
another, " and all day next day, and next night, 
till I see some sign of the boats, and know if 
they be living or dead," but as she stopped 
speaking, there rose a cry of " Here they are," 
and two or three fishing-boats were pushed on 
to the sand close by where they stood, and the 
women threw their arms round their husbands' 
necks, and all shouted for joy. 

The fishermen asked who it was who had 
played the harp ; " For," they said, " it was that 
which saved us. We were far from land, and 
it was so dark that we could not tell whether to 
go to left or to right, and had no sign to guide 
us to shore ; when of a sudden we heard the 
most beautiful music, and we followed the 
sound, and came in quite safely. 

"'Twas this good harper who played while 
we watched," said the women, and one and all 
turned to Arasmon, and told him with tears of 
their gratitude, and asked him what they could 


do for him, or what they could give him in 
token of their thankfulness ; but Arasmon shook 
his head and said, "You can do nothing for 
me, unless you can tell me where to seek my 
wife Chrysea. It is to find her I am wander- 
ing ;" and when the women shook their heads, 
and said again they knew nothing of her, the 
harp-strings as he touched them cried again, 

" Arasmon ! Arasmon ! listen to me. It is 
I, Chrysea ;" but again no one understood it, and 
though all pitied him, no one could help him. 

Next morning when the mist had cleared 
away, and the sun was shining, a little ship set 
sail for foreign countries, and Arasmon begged 
the captain to take him in it that he might seek 
Chrysea still farther. 

They sailed and sailed, till at last they came 
to the country for which they were bound ; but 
they found the whole land in confusion, and war 
and fighting everywhere, and all the people 
were leaving their homes and hiding them- 
selves in the towns, for fear of a terrible enemy, 
who was invading them. But no one hurt Aras- 
mon as he wandered on with his harp in his hand, 


only no one would stop to answer him, when he 
asked if Chrysea had been there, for every one 
was too frightened and hurried to heed him. 

At last he came to the chief city where the 
King dwelt, and here he found all the men 
building walls and fortresses, and preparing to 
defend the town, because they knew their enemy 
was coming to besiege it, but all the soldiers 
were gloomy and low-spirited. 

"It is impossible for us to conquer," they 
said, "for there are three of them to every one 
of us, and they will take our city and make our 
King prisoner." 

That night as the watchmen looked over the 
walls, they saw in the distance an immense army 
marching towards them, and their swords and 
helmets glittered in the moonlight. 

Then they gave the signal, and the captains 
gathered together their men to prepare them for 
fighting ; but so sure were they of being beaten 
that it was with difficulty their officers could 
bring them to the walls. 

" It would be better," said the soldiers, "to 
lay down our arms at once and let the enemy 


enter, for then we should not lose our lives as 
well as our city and our wealth." 

When Arasmon heard this he sat upon the 
walls of the town, and began to play upon his 
harp, and this time its music was so loud and 
clear, that it could be heard far and wide, and 
its sound was so exultant and joyous, that when 
the soldiers heard it they raised their heads, and 
their fears vanished, and they started forward, 
shouting and calling that they would conquer or 
be killed. 

Then the enemy attacked the city, but the 
soldiers within met them with so much force 
that they were driven back, and had to fly, and 
the victorious army followed them and drove 
them quite out of their country, and Arasmon 
went with them, playing on his harp, to cheer 
them as they went. 

When they knew the victory was theirs, all 
the captains wondered what had caused their 
sudden success, and one of the lieutenants said, 
"It was that strange harper who went with us, 
playing on his harp. When our men heard it, 
they became as brave as lions." So the cap- 


tains sent for Arasmon, but when he came they 
were astonished to see how worn and thin he 
looked, and could scarcely believe it was he who 
had made such wonderful music, for his face had 
grown thin and pale, and there were gray locks 
in his hair. 

They asked him what he would like to have, 
saying they would give him whatever he would 
choose, for the great service he had done them. 
Arasmon only shook his head and said, 
" There is nothing I want that you can give 
me. I am seeking the whole world round to 
find my wife Chrysea. It is many many years 
since I lost her. We two were as happy as 
birds on the bough. We wandered over the 
world singing and playing in the sunshine. But 
now she is gone, and I care for nothing else." 
And the captains looked pityingly at him, for 
they all thought him mad, and could not under- 
stand what the harp said when he played on it 
again, and it cried, 

" Listen, Arasmon ! I too am here I , Chrysea." 
So Arasmon left that city, and started again, 
and wandered for days and months and years. 


He came by many strange places, and met 
with many strange people, but he found no 
trace of Chrysea, and each day he looked older 
and sadder and thinner. 

At length he came to a country where the 
King loved nothing on earth so much as music. 
So fond of it was he, that he had musicians and 
singers by the score, always living in his palace, 
and there was no way of pleasing him so well 
as by sending a new musician or singer. So 
when Arasmon came into the country, and the 
people heard how marvellously he played, they 
said at once, " Let us take him to the King. 
The poor man is mad. Hear how he goes on 
asking for his wife ; but, mad or not, his playing 
will delight the King. Let us take him at once 
to the palace." So, though Arasmon would 
have resisted them, they dragged him away to 
the court, and sent a messenger to the King, to 
say they had found a poor mad wandering 
harper, who played music the like of which they 
had never heard before. 

The King and Queen, and all the court, sat 
feasting when the messenger came in saying 


that the people were bringing a new harper to 
play before his majesty. 

" A new harper !" quoth he. " That is good 
hearing. Let him be brought here to play to 
us at once." 

So Arasmon was led into the hall, and up to 
the golden thrones on which sat the King and 
Queen. A wonderful hall it was, made of 
gold and silver, and crystal and ivory, and the 
courtiers, dressed in blue and green and gold 
and diamonds, were a sight to see. Behind the 
throne were twelve young maids dressed in pure 
white, who sang most sweetly, and behind them 
were the musicians who accompanied them on 
every kind of instrument. Arasmon had never 
in his life seen such a splendid sight. 

" Come here," cried the King to him, " and 
let us hear you play." And the singers ceased 
singing, and the musicians smiled scornfully, 
for they could not believe Arasmon's music 
could equal theirs. For he looked to be in a 
most sorry plight. He had walked far, and the 
dust of the roads was on him. His clothes 
were worn threadbare, and stained and soiled, 


while his face was so thin and anxious and sad 
that it was pitiful to see ; but his harp of pure 
shining gold was undulled, and untarnished. 
He began to play, and then all smiles ceased, 
and the women began to weep, and the men 
sat and stared at him in astonishment. When 
he had done the King started up, and throwing 
his arms about his neck, cried, " Stay with me. 
You shall be my chief musician. Never before 
have I heard playing like yours, and whatever 
you want I will give you." But when he heard 
this, Arasmon knelt on one knee and said, 

" My gracious lord, I cannot stay. I have 
lost my wife Chrysea. I must search all over 
the world till I find her. Ah ! how beau- 
tiful she was, and how sweetly she sang; her 
singing was far sweeter than even the music of 
my harp." 

"Indeed!" cried the King. "Then I too 
would fain hear her. But stay with me, and I 
will send messengers all over the world to seek 
her far and near, and they will find her much 
sooner than you." 

So Arasmon stayed at the court, but he said 

' He began to play, and then all smiles ceased." P. 66. 


that if Chrysea did not come soon he must go 
farther to seek her himself. 

The King gave orders that he should be 
clad in the costliest clothes and have all he 
could want given to him, and after this he 
would hear no music but Arasmon's playing, so 
all the other musicians were jealous, and wished 
he had never come to the palace. But the 
strangest thing was that no one but Arasmon 
could play upon his golden harp. All the 
King's harpers tried, and the King himself tried 
also, but when they touched the strings there 
came from them a strange, melancholy wailing, 
and no one but Arasmon could bring out its 
beautiful notes. 

But the courtiers and musicians grew more 
and more angry with Arasmon, till at last they 
hated him bitterly, and only wanted to do him 
some harm ; for they said, 

"Who is he, that our King should love 
and honour him before us ? After all, it is not 
his playing which is so beautiful ; it is chiefly 
the harp on which he plays, and if that were 
taken from him he would be no better than the 


rest of us ; " and then they began to consult 
together as to how they should steal his harp. 

One hot summer evening Arasmon went 
into the palace gardens, and sat down to rest 
beneath a large beech-tree, when a little way 
off he saw two courtiers talking together, and 
heard that they spoke of him, though they did 
not see him or know he was there. 

" The poor man is mad," said one ; " of that 
there is little doubt, but, mad or not, as long as 
he plays on his harp the King will not listen 
to any one else." 

" The only way is to take the harp from him," 
said the other. " But it is hard to know how to 
get it away, for he will never let it go out of 
his hands." 

"We must take it from him when he is 
sleeping," said the first. 

" Certainly," said the other ; and then Aras- 
mon heard them settle how and when they 
would go to his room at night to steal his harp. 

He sat still till they were gone, and then he 
rose, and grasping it tenderly, turned from the 
palace and walked away through the garden gates. 


" I have lost Chrysea," he said, " and now 
they would take from me even my harp, the 
only thing I have to love in all this world, but 
I will go away, far off where they will never 
find me," and when he was out of sight, he ran 
with all his might, and never rested till he was 
far away on a lonely hill, with no one near to 
see him. 

The stars were beginning to shine though it 
was not yet dark. Arasmon sat on a stone and 
looked at the country far and near. He could 
hear the sheep bells tinkling around him, and 
far, far off in the distance he could see the city 
and the palace he had left. 

Then he began to play on his harp, and as 
he played the sheep stopped browsing and drew 
near him to listen. 

The stars grew brighter and the evening 
darker, and he saw a woman carrying a child 
coming up the hill. 

She looked pale and tired, but her face was 
very happy as she sat down not far from Aras- 
mon and listened to his playing, whilst she 
looked eagerly across the hill as if she watched 


for some one who was coming. Presently she 
turned and said, " How beautifully you play ; I 
never heard music like it before, but what 
makes you look so sad ? Are you unhappy ? " 

" Yes," said Arasmon, " I am very miserable. 
I lost my wife Chrysea many years ago, and 
now I don't know where she can be." 

" It is a year since I have seen my husband," 
said the woman. " He went to the war a year 
ago, but now there is peace and he is coming 
back, and to-night he will come over this hill. 
It was just here we parted, and now I am come 
to meet him." 

" How happy you must be," said Arasmon. 
" I shall never see Chrysea again," and as he 
spoke he struck a chord on the harp, which cried, 
" O Arasmon, my husband ! why do you not 
know me ? It is I, Chrysea." 

" Do not say that," continued the woman ; 
"you will find her some day. Why do you sit 
here ? Was it here you parted from her ? " 

Then Arasmon told her how they had gone 
to a strange desolate village and rested there 
for the night, and in the morning Chrysea was 


gone, and that he had wandered all over the 
world looking for her ever since. 

" I think you are foolish," said the woman ; 
"perhaps your wife has been waiting for you at 
that village all this time. I would go back to 
the place where I parted from her if I were you, 
and wait there till she returns. How could I 
meet my husband if I did not come to the spot 
where we last were together ? We might both 
wander on for ever and never find each other ; 
and now, see, here he is coming," and she gave a 
cry of joy and ran to meet a soldier who was 
walking up the hill. 

Arasmon watched them as they met and 
kissed, and saw the father lift the child in his 
arms, then the three walked over the hill 
together, and when they were gone he sat down 
and wept bitterly. " What was it she said ? " 
he said. " That I ought to go back to the spot 
where we parted. She will not be there, but I 
will go and die at the place where I last saw 
her." So again he grasped his harp and started. 
He travelled many days and weeks by land and 
sea, till late one day he came in sight of the hill 


on which stood the little village. But at first 
he could not believe that he had come to the 
right place, so changed did all appear. He 
stopped and looked around him in astonishment. 
He stood in a shady lane, the arching trees met 
over his head. The banks were full of spring 
flowers, and either side of the hedge were fields 
full of young green corn. 

" Can this be the wretched bare road down 
which we walked together ? I would indeed it 
were, and that she were with me now," said he. 
When he looked across to the village, the 
change seemed greater still. There were many 
more cottages, and they were trim and well 
kept, standing in neat gardens full of flowers. 
He heard the cheerful voices of the peasants, 
and the laughter of the village children. The 
whole place seemed to be full of life and happi- 
ness. He stopped again upon the mound 
where he and Chrysea had first played and 

" It is many, many a long year since I was 
here," he said. " Time has changed all things 
strangely ; but it would be hard to say which is 


the more altered, this village or I, for then it 
was sunk in poverty and wretchedness, and 
now it has gained happiness and wealth, and I, 
who was so happy and glad, now am broken- 
down and worn. I have lost my only wealth, my 
wife Chrysea. It was just here she stood and 
sang, and now I shall never see her again or 
hear her singing." 

There came past him a young girl driving 
some cows, and he turned and spoke to her. 
" Tell me, I beg/' he said, " is not your village 
much changed of late years ? I was here long 
ago, but I cannot now think it the same place, 
for this is as bright and flourishing a town as 
I have ever seen, and I remember it only as a 
dreary tumble-down village where the grass 
never grew." 

" Oh !" said the girl, " then you were here in 
our bad time, but we do not now like to speak 
of that, for fear our troubles should return. 
Folks say we were spell-bound. 'Tis so long 
ago that I can scarcely remember it, for I was 
quite a little child then. But a wandering 
musician and his wife set us free ; at least, 


everything began to mend after they came, and 
now we think they must have been angels from 
heaven, for next day they went, and we have 
never seen them since." 

"It was I and my wife Chrysea," cried 
Arasmon. " Have you seen her ? Has she 
been here ? I have sought all over the world 
ever since, but I cannot find her, and now I fear 
lest she be dead." 

The girl stared at him in surprise. " You ? 
you poor old man ! Of what are you talking ? 
You must surely be mad to say such things. 
These musicians were the most beautiful people 
upon the earth, and they were young and dressed 
in shining white and gold, and you are old and 
gray and ragged, and surely you are very ill 
too, for you seem to be so weak that you can 
scarcely walk. Come home with me, and I will 
give you food and rest till you are better." 

Arasmon shook his head. " I am seeking 
Chrysea," he said, " and I will rest no more till 
I have found her ;" and the girl, seeing that he 
was determined, left him alone and went on her 
way driving her cows before her. 


When she had gone Arasmon sat by the 
wayside and wept as though his heart would 
break. "It is too true," he said ; " I am so old 
and worn that when I find her she will not 
know me," and as he again fell a-weeping his 
hand struck the harp-strings, and they cried, " I 
have watched you through all these years, my 
Arasmon. Take comfort, I am very near," 
and his tears ceased, and he was soothed by 
the voice of the harp, though he knew not why. 

Then he rose. " I will go to the moor," he 
said, " and look for the tree on which I found 
my harp, and that will be my last resting-place, 
for surely my strength will carry me no farther." 
So he tottered slowly on, calling, as he went, in 
a weak voice, " Chrysea, my Chrysea ! are you 
here ? I have sought you over the world since 
you left me, and now that I am old and like to 
die, I am come to seek you where we parted." 

When he came upon the moor, he wondered 
again at the change of all the country round. 
He thought of the charred, blackened waste on 
which he had stood before, and now he looked 
with amazement at the golden gorse, the purple 


heather, so thick that he could scarcely pick his 
way amongst it. 

" It is a beautiful place now," he said, "but 
I liked it better years ago, deserted and desolate 
though it was, for my Chrysea was here." 

There were so many trees upon the common 
that he could not tell which was the one on 
which his harp had hung, but, unable to go any 
farther, he staggered and sank down beneath a 
large oak-tree, in whose branches a blackbird 
was singing most sweetly. The sun was setting 
just as of yore when he had found his harp, and 
most of the birds' songs were over, but this one 
bird still sang sweet and clear, and Arasmon, 
tired and weak though he was, raised his head 
and listened. 

" I never heard bird sing like that," he said. 
" What is the tune it sings ? I will play it on 
my harp before I die." And with what strength 
remained to him he reached forth his trembling 
hand, and grasping his harp struck upon it the 
notes of the bird's song, then he fell back ex- 
hausted, and his eyes closed. 

At once the harp slid from his hand, and 


Chrysea stood beside him Chrysea dressed as 
of old, in shining white and gold, with bright 
hair and eyes. 

"Arasmon!" she cried, "see, it is I, Chry- 
sea !" but Arasmon did not move. Then she 
raised her voice and sang more sweetly than the 
bird overhead, and Arasmon opened his eyes 
and looked at her. 

"Chrysea!" cried he; "I have found my 
wife Chrysea!" and he laid his head on her 
bosom and died. And when Chrysea saw it her 
heart broke, and she lay beside him and died 
without a word. 

In the morning when some of the villagers 
crossed the common they saw Arasmon and 
Chrysea lying beneath the oak-tree in each 
other's arms, and drew near them, thinking they 
were asleep, but when they saw their faces they 
knew they were dead. 

Then an old man stooped and looked at 
Chrysea, and said, 

"Surely it is the woman who came to us 
and sang long ago, when we were in our 
troubles ; and, though he is sadly changed and 


worn, it is like her husband who played for her 

Then came the girl who had driven the 
cows and told them how she had met Arasmon, 
and all he had said to her. 

"He searched everywhere for his wife, he 
said," said she. " I am glad he has found her. 
Where could she be ?" 

" Would that we had known it was he," said 
they all, " how we would have greeted him ! but 
see, he looks quite content and as if he wished 
nothing more, since he has found his wife 

ONG ago, in the days of 
fairies, there lived a King 
and Queen, who were rich 
and happy. 

But the Queen was a 
proud, haughty woman, and 
disliked every one more powerful than herself. 
And most of all, she hated the fairy folk, and 
could not bear them to come to the castle where 
she and the King dwelt. 

Time passed, and the Queen had a little 
baby, a daughter whom they called Joan 
and the bells were rung, and there were great 
rejoicings all over the country, and the King 
and Queen were happy as the day is long. 

One day as the Queen sat by the cradle of 


the little Princess, watching it, she said, " My 
pretty babe, when you are grown to be a woman 
you will be rich and beautiful, and you shall 
marry some young Prince, who will love you 
dearly, and then in your turn be Queen, and 
have a fine palace, and jewels, and lands to 
your heart's content." Scarcely had she done 
speaking when she heard a little noise beside 
her, and, looking up, saw a woman dressed 
in yellow from head to foot standing on the 
other side of the cradle. She wore a yellow 
cap, which covered her head completely, so 
that no hair was seen, and her eyes, which 
looked cunning and fierce, were yellow as her 

" And how do you know, Queen, that your 
child will be so happy ? Whose help will you 
seek to get her all these fine things ?" said the 
strange woman. 

" I will ask no one's help," said the Queen 
haughtily, " for I am Queen of the land, and can 
have what I please." 

The yellow woman laughed, and said, 
" Don't be too sure, proud Queen ; but the next 


night that the moon is bright, guard well the 
Princess when the clock strikes twelve, lest 
aught of her's be stolen from her." 

" No thief shall come near her," cried the 
Queen; but ere she had done speaking the 
woman had vanished, and the Queen knew it 
was a fairy. 

The sky that night was dark and overcast, 
and no moon to be seen, and the next night was 
the same, but the third night the moon shone 
bright and dear, and as the clock struck twelve 
the Queen awoke and looked at the baby, who 
was sleeping peacefully in its cradle ; but 'twixt 
the strokes of the clock she heard a faint 
whistling outside the window, which grew 
louder and fuller each moment. 'Twas as if 
some one whistled to decoy away a bird, and on 
hearing it the baby awoke and began to cry 
bitterly. The Queen could not quiet her, try 
how she might. At last the little one gave one 
scream louder than all the others and then lay 
quite still, and at that moment the Queen saw 
something flutter across the room like a tiny 
bird, with pink, soft feathers. It flew straight 


out of the window, and the whistling ceased, and 
all again was quiet as before. The Queen took 
the baby in her arms and looked at it anxiously 
by the light of the moon, but it looked well and 
slept calmly, so its mother placed it in its 
cradle and tried to forget the yellow fairy and 
the whistling. 

The nurse of the Princess Joan was a very 
wise old woman who knew a great deal of 
fairies and their ways, and as the child grew up 
she watched her with an anxious face. 

" She is under a charm," she said, " though 
what it is I don't know; but before she is a 
woman they will see how different she is from 

The nurse's words proved to be true. No 
one had ever seen a little girl like the Princess. 
Nothing troubled her. She never shed one 
tear. If she were angry she would stamp her 
feet and her eyes would flash, but she never 
wept, and she loved nobody. When her little 
dog died she laughed outright ; when the King 
her father went to the war it did not grieve 
her ; and when he returned she was no happier 


than she had been when he was away. She 
never kissed her mother, or her ladies, and 
when they said they loved her, she stared at 
them, and asked what they meant. At this the 
ladies were angry with her and chid her for 
being hard-hearted, but the old nurse always 
stopped them, saying, 

"'Tis not her you should blame. She is 
enchanted, but 'tis not her fault." 

Princess Joan grew up and was the loveliest 
woman in the land. It was many long years 
since any one so fair had been seen, but for all 
that her mother mourned over her sorely, and 
her eyes were red with crying for her beautiful 
daughter, who had never yet wept one tear 

The neighbouring country was governed by 
a King and Queen who had only one son, 
named Michael, whom everybody loved dearly. 
He was a handsome young man, and as good 
as he was handsome. He was as gracious to 
the poorest beggar as to the greatest lord, and 
all the poor folk came to him to tell him their 
troubles, if they thought they were badly treated ; 


and because he was brave and handsome also, 
the court people loved him as well as the 

In this country there stood on a high hill 
a round tower, and at the top of it lived 
an old wizard. No man knew his age, for 
he had dwelt there for hundreds of years, and 
no one knew how the tower had been built, 
for it was made of one huge stone, and there 
were no joins in it at all. 

The King and Queen were afraid of the old 
magician, and never went near him ; indeed, no 
one in all the country had ever ventured to 
climb the tower and see the old man at his 
work except Prince Michael, who knew the old 
sorcerer well and did not fear him at all, but 
went up and down the tower as he chose. 

One bright moonlight night it chanced that 
the Prince found himself alone on the hill-side, 
and seeing a bright light shining from the top 
of the tower he resolved to enter and pay the 
old man a visit. So he went to a little door, 
and pushing it open stepped into a narrow, 
dark, winding staircase, that went straight up 


the centre to the room at the top, in which 
the wizard dwelt. The staircase was pitch 
dark, for there were no windows. Moreover, 
it was so narrow that only one person could 
walk in it at a time, but Prince Michael knew 
the way quite well, and climbed and climbed 
till he saw a chink of light, and at last trod 
through a little doorway into the room in which 
the sorcerer sat. 

This room was as light as day, for it was lit 
by a lamp which the old man himself had made, 
and in which no oil or wick was burning, but 
every day it was filled with sunbeams, and held 
them at night after the sun had set. 

So the whole room was brilliant, and in the 
middle sat the wizard, who was a wonderful old 
man to look on, for he was all white. His 
beard was white as snow, and from afar you 
could not tell which was beard and which gown, 
but when you came near you saw that the beard 
flowed nearly to his feet, and his skin was as 
white as either beard or gown. And his eyes 
were quite colourless, but as bright as two 


When Michael entered he sat looking at an 
enormous book full of coloured pictures of little 
men and women about three inches high each. 
They were not like other pictures, for they 
walked and moved over the page as though 
they were alive. 

" It is I, father. What book are you looking 
at ?" said Michael, stepping up to the old man's 

"In this book," said the wizard, " I keep 
the portraits of all the men and women in the 
world, and they are living portraits too, for they 
move, and look just like the originals." 

" That must be very amusing," cried Michael. 
" Pray show me the portraits of all the Kings, 
and Queens, and Princesses. This will be 
delightful," and he knelt down by the old man 
and looked over his shoulder. 

The sorcerer muttered to himself and turned 
over the pages, and then stopped at one on 
which Michael saw little figures of Kings and 
Queens of all sorts, some of which he knew, and 
some of which he had never seen before. 

" There," he cried, " is old King Re"n6 who 

" Tis their daughter, Princess Joan," said the wizard with a sigh. " But do not look at 
her, my son, for she will bring nothing but trouble to all who know her." p. 87. 


came to our court last year, and that is Queen 
Constance, and that is their nephew Prince 
Guilbert, who will be king when they are dead, 
and here are our neighbours the King and 
Queen of the next country, and oh, my father, 
who is this lovely Princess next to them ?" 

"'Tis their daughter Princess Joan," said 
the wizard with a sigh. " But do not look at 
her, my son, for she will bring nothing but 
trouble to all who know her." 

" I don't care if she bring trouble or happi- 
ness," cried the Prince. " But for certain she 
is the most beautiful creature in the world," and 
he seized the book and looked long at the tiny 
figure of the Princess. Truly it was very beau- 
tiful. It was dressed in white, with a golden 
girdle round the waist, and a wreath of golden 
daisies on its head, and as Michael looked, it 
turned upon the pages, and smiled at him till he 
smiled back again, and could not move his eyes 
from it. 

When the wizard saw this, he took the book 
from the young man's hands, and hid it away, 


" Think no more of Princess Joan, however 
beautiful she be, or one day you will rue it 

Prince Michael made no answer, but he 
thought all the more of the little picture of the 
Princess. After he had left the tower, and re- 
turned to the palace, he could not forget her, 
but dreamt of her all night, and thought of her 
all day. 

Next morning he went to the King and said, 
"My father, I am come to beg that you will 
send to the King of the next country and ask 
if I may have his daughter, Princess Joan, for 
my wife, for I have seen her portrait, and there 
is no one in the world whom I love so well." 

When the King heard this he was delighted. 

"Our good neighbours," he said, "are rich 
and powerful, and it will be a capital thing for 
our son to marry their daughter." So he at 
once sent off an ambassador to beg for the hand 
of Princess Joan for Prince Michael. 

Joan's father and mother were delighted 
with the offer, and at once resolved to accept 
it; but the Queen's heart sank within her, 


for she thought, " Our poor Joan is not like any 
other maid who ever lived before, and perhaps 
when Prince Michael sees her and finds this 
out, he will refuse to wed her after all ;" but she 
said nothing of her fears, and the ambassador 
returned to the court, loaded with presents, and 
bearing a message of acceptance. 

Till his return Prince Michael knew no 
peace or rest, but wandered about among the 
hills by himself, thinking of Joan, and still, in 
his heart, he wondered what the magician had 
meant when he said that if he thought much of 
Princess Joan, one day he would rue it 

At last he said to himself, " I will disguise 
myself as a poor man, and go and see my 
Princess for myself before the ambassador* 
returns, then shall I know what the wizard 

So he dressed himself as a peasant, and 
started alone without telling any one whither he 
went, and he travelled day and night till he 
came to the country where Joan dwelt and to 
her father s palace. Then he walked near the 
palace gardens, and no one noticed him, and he 


saw a group of lovely ladies, who sat together 
on the grass. 

His heart beat high as he looked at them, 
for in their midst, most beautiful of all, sat 
the Princess Joan. Her yellow hair fell to her 
waist, her face was like a blush rose, and her 
eyes were blue as forget-me-nots, but when she 
lifted them, he saw that they were clear and 
hard as glass, and her voice when she spoke 
was like a bright cold bell. 

There ran up to her a little serving-maid, 
crying bitterly, and said, 

" I beg of you, Princess, to let me return to 
my own home for a time, for my father, the 
huntsman, has broken his leg and is very ill." 

"Why should you cry for that?" said the 
Princess. " 'Tis your father and not you that 
is hurt ; but you may go, for when you cry and 
your eyes look red you are ugly, and I don't like 
to see you, so be sure that when you return you 
are pretty and bright as ever.*' 

When her ladies heard her they looked 
angry, but no one spoke, and the little maid went 
crying away. 


Up there came a groom from the palace and 

"Your Royal Highness, the horse that you 
rode yesterday is dead, and we think it is 
because you would ride so far when it was 
already tired, as we told you." 

"Dead is it ?" cried the Princess. "Then 
see quickly and get me another, that I may ride 
again to-morrow, and be sure this time that it is 
a good strong horse, or it may give way beneath 
me and so my ride be shortened." 

The groom went away muttering, and the 
Princess's ladies looked even graver than before, 
but the Princess's own face was bright as a 
summer sky, and she talked on without heeding 
their sad looks. 

Prince Michael turned away with a heavy 

"The magician spoke truly," he said to 
himself, " and there will be nothing but sorrow 
for all those who love my poor Princess Joan." 

Yet he could not bear to leave her and re- 
turn at once to his own home, and still he 
remained near the palace, and for some days 


watched her unnoticed, when she walked and 
rode, and listened to all she said, and each day 
he grieved more and more, for she never said 
one kind loving word to any one ; yet each day 
when he saw how beautiful she was he loved 
her more and more. 

When he again returned to his own home he 
found great rejoicings everywhere, for the ambas- 
sador had returned with a message from Joan's 
father promising she should marry the Prince, 
and everywhere preparations were being made 
for the entry of the Princess to her new home. 

" And now, my son," said the King, " all is 
arranged for you to journey in state to her 
father's court and bring back your bride, so 
now I hope that you are happy and wish for 
nothing more." 

On hearing this Prince Michael's face was 
sad and grave, and his father and mother 
wondered what ailed him. But he said to him- 
self, " I will never marry my Joan till she loves 
me as I do her, and how can she ever do that 
when she loves no one, not even her own father 
and mother ?" 


At the court of Joan's father grand prepara- 
tions had been made, and all was in excitement 
when Prince Michael arrived with servants, and 
horses, and presents for the bride. 

The King and Queen sat in state to receive 
him, and beside them was Joan, and she looked 
so beautiful, in a dress as blue as her eyes, that 
every one said, " How glad he will be when he 
sees how lovely she is." 

* There was a blowing of trumpets and ringing 
of bells when Prince Michael, followed by his 
attendants, entered, and the King and Queen 
and all the courtiers rose. 

He passed up the hall to the thrones on 
which they sat, and kneeling on one knee, kissed 
their hands, and last he kissed the hand of the 
Princess, but he did not lift his eyes from the 
ground or look in her face, and his own was so 
sad that the people whispered to each other, and 
said, "What is the matter, and why does he 
look so unhappy ? Surely he ought to be con- 
tent when he sees how beautiful she is." 

At night when the merrymakings were over 
the Prince sent a message to the Queen, 


begging she would speak with him alone, and 
when she heard this her heart sank, and she 
thought, " He must know that there is something 
amiss with Joan, and perhaps he comes to say 
he will not marry her after all." 

So she sent every one away, except the old 
nurse and bid the Prince to come. 

When he came in and saw her sad looks 
he said, "You have guessed then, Queen, 
why I come to speak to you. Tell me truly 
what ails Princess Joan, and why is she unlike 
any one I ever saw." The Queen cried 
bitterly, and said, " I know not ; would I did !" 
but the old nurse said, 

" I know and will tell you, Prince. Princess 
Joan is under a spell. A bad fairy enchanted 
her when she was a tiny baby, and till this 
charm is broken, she will never be like other 

" And what is the charm ? " asked the 

"Nay, that I don't know," said the nurse. 
Then she told Michael of the yellow woman 
and the whistling the Queen had heard at night; 


and as he listened the Prince sighed and said, 
" There is no charm which cannot be broken if 
one does but know how, but this is hard to do, 
for we do not know what the spell is, or who is 
the fairy who cast it. But bid the people cease 
their preparations, Queen, and stop the wedding 
rejoicings, for there will be no wedding. No, 
not till I have found the fairy who has wronged 
my Joan, and made her set her free. To-morrow 
I shall start at break of day, and journey to the 
farthest ends of the world, to search for what 
can break the charm. But I pray, Queen, that 
Joan may wait for me for seven years, and if, 
when they are past, I have not returned, and 
you have heard nothing of me, you must think 
that I am dead and gone, and marry her to 
whom you will, for if I be alive, I will return 
before then. And till seven years are past 
remember that Joan is still mine." 

On hearing this the Queen wept still more, 
and begged the Prince either to remain and 
marry Joan, or to leave her and return to his 
home and forget her ; but if he wandered away 
to lands of goblins and fairies, no one would 


know what had become of him, and he would 
never find the fairy who had charmed Joan or 
learn how to break the spell; but Prince Michael 
only shook his head, and said, " I have sworn 
that I will not marry Joan till she loves me as I 
do her, neither can I return to my home and 
forget her, so bid her be ready at dawn to- 
morrow to bid me farewell, and tell none that I 
am going till I have gone. Also I beg you 
to send a messenger to my father and mother 
to tell them why I do not return, for I will 
not see them first, lest they too should try to 
dissuade me." The Queen said no more, but 
she cried very bitterly ; but the old nurse smiled 
and nodded to Michael and said, 

" You do well. You are a noble Prince, and 
would well deserve our Princess's love." 

Next morning at break of day the Queen 
awoke the Princess and bade her rise, for Prince 
Michael waited to bid her good-bye. The 
Prince stood at the door of the palace, and 
when Princess Joan came out looking lovelier 
than ever in the dim morning light, the tears 
filled his eyes, and he thought, " Most likely I 


shall never see her again, and then she will 
never know how much I have loved her." 

" Good-bye, Joan," he said ; " do not quite 
forget me for seven years, for perhaps I may 
yet come back and marry you." 

" And why do you go ?" said Joan ; " I had 
thought there would be a grand wedding, and 
I should have all the gifts that are being pre- 
pared for me, and now I shall have nothing; 
but good-bye, if go you must." 

Michael sighed as he mounted his horse 
and bade her farewell. When he looked back 
at the palace, the Queen and Joan still stood at 
the door, and the Queen sobbed ; but Princess 
Joan looked quite happy and contented, and 
smiled brightly. 

Prince Michael rode and rode, till he came 
to his own home, and then he turned at once 
to the tower in which dwelt the magician. He 
climbed the tower and found the old man sitting 
alone as before, but he had no book before him, 
and he looked very grave. 

" I know why you are come," he said, as 
soon as Michael entered the room. "So you 


have seen Princess Joan ; and do you still wish 
to marry her ?" 

" I will marry her, or no one," said Michael. 
"But not till I have found out who has bewitched 
her, and have broken the charm." 

" You will have to search far for that," said 
the wizard ; " And it may be years ere you could 
set her free. Forget her, my son, and return to 
your own home, and do not waste your life in 
a fruitless quest." 

" I will seek to break the charm, even if it 
take my whole life," said Michael. "But tell me 
what it is, and how shall I find out how to 
break it." 

"A fairy has stolen her heart," said the 
wizard, " and that is why she loves no one, and 
can feel no sorrow ; she has no heart with 
which to love or pity, and till it is found and 
restored to her, she will be hard and cold 
as stone. The fairy swore she would be 
revenged on her mother for her pride, and so 
she is." 

"Then I will go and seek her heart, and 
bring it back to her," said Michael. "But 


where shall I look for it ? Tell me at least where 
has the fairy hidden it." 

" She has taken it to a castle in which are 
kept all the hearts of men and women, that 
fairies steal, or that they themselves throw 
away ; and this castle is very far from here ; 
moreover, it is guarded by an old gnome, 
who is spiteful and cruel, and who pays no 
heed to those who beg him to let them enter. 
Give up the Princess and return to your home, 
for if you go, you will only die, or be enchanted 
like poor Princess Joan." 

" Nevertheless, I shall go," said Michael. 
" So tell me what path to take, and I will start 
at once." 

On hearing this the sorcerer took from his 
bosom a small round piece of glass, and gave it 
to the young man. " Take this," he said ; "It is 
all that I can give you, to help you, and through 
it you must look at the stars, and you will see 
that they are all of different colours blue, 
green, red, and yellow ; look for the one which 
is the deepest, brightest red, and follow it ; it 
will lead you many miles both by land and sea, 


but follow steadily, and let nothing turn you 
from your course, and you will surely come to 
the castle wherein is imprisoned the heart of 
your Princess." 

The Prince thanked the magician, and took 
the glass ; then bidding him " Good-bye," he 
left the strangely lighted chamber, and went 
down the dark staircase, and stood again on 
the hill outside, with the dark sky overhead 
filled with shining stars. 

Michael raised the glass and looked at them 
through it, and then he almost shouted with 
surprise, for they looked wonderful. They were 
like jewels of all colours green, blue, yellow, 
pink and in the south was one of a deep glow- 
ing red, like a blood-red rose, and Michael knew 
that that was the star he must follow. 

Then he looked back towards his father's 
palace. " Farewell," he said ; "some day I will 
return, and bring with me my Princess Joan." 
So he set off, and journeyed and journeyed, 
till he had reached towns and villages which he 
had never seen before. All that night he 
travelled while the stars shone, and he could see 


the rosy star to follow. But when the stars 
grew pale, and the sun rose, and people began 
to wake up and turn to their work, he lay down 
under a tree and slept soundly. When he 
woke the day was almost done, and the sun 
was sinking. So he went to a little town near 
and bought food, and rested till again the stars 
shone in the sky. Then he rose and went on all 
night, still following the crimson star. So passed 
many days and nights, and he journeyed through 
strange lands, and his heart sank when he 
thought, " So may I wander all round the world, 
and come no nearer to the star, or to the castle 
where they keep the heart of my poor Joan." 

At last he came to the sea-shore, and in 
front of him lay a great cold sea, and beyond it 
he saw no sign of land. But the star shone 
right over it, and he knew that he must cross, 
if he still would follow it. It was in the even- 
ing, the sun had set, but some fishermen still 
remained on the beach, resting beside their 
boats. Michael went up to them, and taking 
some money from his pocket, asked for how 
much they would sell him one of their boats. 


At this the men looked surprised, and one 
of them said, "Why do you wish to buy a 
boat ? We use them to fish near the shore, 
but no boat or ship has ever crossed this sea, 
for no one knows what land is beyond.'* 

" Then I will be the first to find out," said 
Michael. " Tell me how much you want, and 
give me your largest boat." On this the men 
muttered together, and one said, "He is mad." 
" Yes," said another, " but his money is good, 
for all that. Let the madman have his way. 
It will hurt him, not us." So they gave Michael 
their best boat, and he paid them well, and 
he set sail and steered where the red star 
shone. He sailed all night till he had left 
every trace of land behind him, and saw no 
shore in front, only the cold, gray sea on every 
side. By day he kept the boat still, afraid 
lest he should get out of the track of the star, 
but when the second night came he was so 
weary that in spite of himself he fell asleep. 
When he awoke he found the sun had risen, 
and his boat was drifting close to land. It 
was a flat, lonely shore, without trees or grass 


growing in sight, and facing him was an 
immense castle. It was built of black marble, 
and a more gloomy place could not be, for the 
windows were small and high up, and were all 
barred across, with heavy iron bars, and the 
castle had no spires or towers, but was one 
square black block, and looked more like a 
prison than a castle. Around it was a high 
wall, and outside this a moat, without a bridge. 
Michael steered his boat to shore, and 
stepped from it, and looked about for some way 
by which he could cross the moat, and try for 
entrance to the castle. Then he saw a little 
hut near, and beside it lay an old man appar- 
ently fast asleep. He was small and dark, 
and his face was gray and wrinkled as a 
monkey's, and he had no hair on his head. 
Close beside him coiled up was a large snake, 
also asleep. Michael stood watching them 
both, afraid to wake them, when, without a 
word, the gray man raised his head, and open- 
ing a pair of dull, gray eyes, fixed them on him. 
Still he did not speak, and at last the Prince, 
growing impatient, went up to him and said, 


"Friend, I beg you to tell me how I am 
to enter the castle ; or if you have the key, to 
give it to me." 

On this the old man answered, " I have the 
key, and no one can enter without my leave. 
What will you give me for it ?" 

" Why," said Michael, " I have nothing but 
money," and he took some coins from his 
pocket as he spoke. 

At this the old man laughed. " Your 
money is nothing to me," he said ; " But look 
yonder. Over there I am building a wall of 
heavy stones, and I am old, and my strength 
fails me ; stay and work for me at that wall, 
and in return I will give you the key of the 

" But how long must I work ?" said Michael, 
" For unless I can enter the castle before seven 
years are over, it will be no use to me. 

" Look at that serpent," said the old man ; 
"It is sitting on its eggs. When they are 
hatched you shall have the key and open 
the castle door. Till then you must be my 


" Gladly," said Michael, who was delighted ; 
" for no snake could take seven years hatching 
its eggs." 

Then the old man rose, and beckoning to 
him to follow, went into the little cottage. 
From a nail upon the wall he took a pair of 
manacles fastened together by a heavy iron 
chain. These he slipped over Michael's wrists, 
and stooping down over them, muttered a few 
words, and at once the manacles fastened to- 
gether as if they had been locked, and Michael 
could not move them, or draw out his hands. 
Then the old man took down another heavy 
chain and passed it over the first and fastened 
it with more iron rings to his ankles, so that he 
could only move his arms and hands a little 
way, and could not raise them high, and could 
only walk with slow careful steps. This done, 
he pointed to where, on the wall high up, hung 
a gleaming golden sword, the handle of which 
was set with precious stones. 

" That," said he, " is the key of the castle, 
and you need only push the doors with its point 
and they will all fly open ; but while your hands 


are chained you cannot reach it to lift it down, 
but when the serpent's eggs are hatched your 
iron rings will fall off, and you yourself may take 
the sword down from its place, and push your 
way into the castle. Now get you to your 
work, and work hard, or you may rue it." 

Then he showed Michael how he was to 
move the heavy stones, and where to build with 
them, and he himself sat down by the serpent 
and watched him, while the Prince went to work 
with a light heart, for he thought, "It is hard 
work while it lasts, but 'twill not be for long, 
and 'tis not much to do to win my Joan." So 
he worked hard till the sun had set, and then 
the old man rose, saying, " Enough," and called 
him into the hut and gave him food and drink, 
but he ate nothing himself, and then he showed 
him where he could sleep in one corner, and 
Michael lay down and slept soundly and 
dreamed of Joan. 

At break of day he was waked by the old 
man, who again gave him plenty to eat, and 
again ate nothing, but what he gave to him 
he took from an urn in the corner, and when 


he had done he put into the urn the fragments 
that were left. 

All day Michael worked hard, and in the 
evening as he passed by the snake, he looked at 
it as it lay coiled over its eggs, and said, 

" How soon will your work be done, and 
mine also, good snake ? Make haste, I pray, 
that I may find my way into the castle, and 
return to my Princess." 

So the days passed. Each morning the old 
man awoke Michael and gave him food, and 
set him to work, and all day he laboured 
hard. Then when night approached, he called 
" Enough," and beckoning him into the hut, 
gave him plenty to eat and drink, but never 
ate himself, and beside that one word never 
spoke, but crouched all day beside the snake, 
with closed eyes as if asleep. 

Meantime, the doors of the castle never 
opened, and no one was seen going in, or 
coming out ; but sometimes, towards night, 
strange noises might be heard from within its 
walls ; sometimes there were wails and moans, 
which it filled Michael with horror to hear, and 


sometimes there was sweet singing, so sweet 
that it drew tears to his eyes. 

But the days passed, and the serpent never 
moved from its eggs, and Michael's heart began 
to be oppressed with fear, lest the old man 
was deceiving him, and they should never be 
hatched at all. As each day passed, he put 
aside a stone on a bare rock, and one day when 
he counted over the stones to see how many 
days were gone, he found that more than a 
year had passed since his boat had brought him 
to the shore. His hands had grown hard and 
brown and cracked, with working at the heavy 
stones, and his face and neck were blistered 
and sunburnt with the fierce sun that beat 
upon them as he worked. His clothes were 
cut and torn and soiled, and yet he seemed to 
be no nearer entering the castle. Then he rose 
and went into the cottage, and looked longingly 
at the sword which hung high up, on the walls, 
and raised his arms to try and reach it, but the 
chains held him down, and as he turned from it 
in despair he saw the old man standing in the 
doorway watching him with his cold dull eyes. 


"What would you do here?" he asked; 
" have I not bid you serve me till the serpent's 
eggs are hatched, and then the sword shall be 
yours ?" 

"And when will the serpent's eggs be 
hatched ?" cried Michael in despair. 

" That," said the old man, " I cannot tell, 
but a bargain is a bargain ; keep you your 
part and I will keep mine." Then he turned 
again to where the serpent lay, and lying down 
beside it closed his eyes, and Michael returned 
to his work mournfully. 

Time passed, but there came no change. 
Michael despaired in his heart, but he could not 
have escaped even if he would, because of the 
chains which hung from his arms. 

" I will work here," he said, " till the seven 
years are out, then I will climb on the wall which 
I have built and throw myself into the sea and 
end my troubles." 

Sometimes at night he would take from his 
bosom the piece of magic glass which the wizard 
had given him and would gaze through it at the 
star which still looked a bright crimson colour. 


" Why have you led me here, cruel star," he 
asked sadly, " if you cannot help me more ? 
Are you shining over my home and my Prin- 
cess, and does she remember me ? The seven 
long years will soon be passed, and they will 
wed her to another king, and it will be all of no 
avail that I have given up everything to find 
her heart, since I have only broken my own." 

So the time passed. Michael worked hard 
by day, but by night he lay and wept. One 
day, when the seven years had nearly worn 
themselves away, he bent over a pool of water, 
and in it saw his own form, and he saw that his 
hair was thin and streaked with gray, and his 
face furrowed and seamed, and his eyes dim 
with crying, also his shoulders were bowed with 
hard work, and his clothes, once so gorgeous, 
now hung mere rags upon his bent form. 

" Now all is in vain," said he, " for if even I 
returned to my own home no one will know me, 
so changed am I. I will go and kill the snake 
that has caused my misery, and then I will slay 
the old man who has deceived me." 

So he went up to the snake, who lay 


motionless coiled over its eggs as usual, and 
reached out his hand to grasp its throat, but as 
he did so his tears fell and dropped upon its 
head, and it writhed fearfully and then glided 
away so fast that he could not see where it 
went, and left the heap of gray eggs bare be- 
neath his hand. The old man lay beside them 
as still as usual, and did not move or open his 
eyes, even when the snake glided hissing past 

" If the snake has escaped me," cried 
Michael, " then at least I can destroy the 
eggs ;" and lifting his heel he struck them with 
all his might, but his foot left no mark upon 
them, nor even moved them from their place. 
They might have been made of iron, and each 
one nailed to the ground, so hard and firm they 

Michael burst out weeping afresh. "How 
foolish I am," he said, "Yes, and wicked too. 
It is not the fault of the poor snake that its 
eggs are not hatched. Perhaps it is enchanted 
like me, and waits as patiently for them ;" and 
he bent his head till his tears fell upon the eggs. 


No sooner did they touch them, than the 
shells broke, and the pieces fell asunder, and 
from each egg came a small moving thing, 
though what it was Michael did not see, for he 
leaped to his feet with a shout of joy, which 
filled the air, and echoed again from the castle. 
At this the old man opened his eyes, and rais- 
ing himself gazed, as if thunderstruck, with 
astonishment at the eggs. 

"'Tis a miracle," he cried, chuckling with 

But out of the eggs, there came no one fully 
formed animal, but from one egg came a foot, 
from another a leg, from another a tail, and 
from one a head, and each looked as though it 
belonged to some different beast, yet all these 
drew themselves together, and joined so well 
that the join was not to be seen. And they 
made a hideous monster of many colours. 
Then the manacles on Michael's wrists burst 
asunder, and the chains fell to the ground. 

" Now," he cried, " I will go and take for 
myself the sword from the wall, and win my 
way into the castle, and nothing shall hinder 


me more." And he turned and rushed into the 
hut. There, upon the wall hung the shining 
sword, and Michael reached out his hand and 
seized it firmly, and drew it down from its 

" I will swear a vow," he cried, " upon this 
sword, that when I enter the castle, I will say 
not one word for good or for ill to any one, 
save to ask for what I come to seek, lest I 
should again be kept for years. Moreover, I 
will not taste food or drink, till I have found 
the heart of my Joan to take back to her/' 
Then, with the sword in his hand, he passed 
the old man, who still sat chuckling over the 
monster, too busy to heed him, and he went 
straight on to the bridgeless moat. It was not 
wide, and he swam it easily, and scrambled 
up the bank by the stone wall. He pushed 
with the point of the sword at the gate, and 
it at once flew open, and he stood in the 
outer court. Then he saw a heavy door in 
the wall of the castle, and went up to it, nothing 
fearing, and, on touching it with the sword's 
point, it too flew open at once, and he entered. 


He stepped into a passage filled with flowers 
and hung with silken hangings. He trod upon 
a velvet carpet, and the air was laden with 
sweet scents, and from afar he heard sweet 
voices singing. He strode on through another 
door, and yet another, and at each step he took 
all things became lovelier, till at last he passed 
into a splendid chamber, the like of which he 
had never seen before. In the ceiling were 
precious stones set in patterns of flowers and 
crowns, on the walls were soft velvet hangings 
and embroideries. The furniture was of carven 
gold and silver and ivory, and everywhere grew 
flowers of wonderful beauty, which sprang from 
the floor and crept along the walls, and filled 
the air with sweet scents, and hanging on the 
walls were cages which held what Michael 
thought were birds, which sang most sweetly. 

On a table in the centre of the room was a 
banquet all laid ready, and as Michael looked 
at it and wondered where he should go farther, 
a curtain was drawn aside, and there stepped 
forth a stately dame dressed in black velvet, 
who came smiling towards him and held out 


her hand, saying, " I am indeed glad to see 
you, I am mistress of this castle, and you are 
very welcome ; but I beg that before you tell 
me from where you come and what you seek, 
you will sit down and share this feast with me." 
Michael was beginning to answer, when he felt 
the sword in his hand, and remembered his 
oath, and looking full in the face of the new- 
comer, said, " I seek the heart of Princess 

" And you shall find it," answered the grand 
lady. " But first you must rest and eat, for 
you must be both tired and hungry;" and so 
saying she sat at one end of the table, and 
signed to Michael to sit at the other, and took 
the golden covers from the dishes, and prepared 
to begin the feast. Michael knew not what 
to do, but he sat at the table in silence, and 
all at once bethought him of the magic glass 
in his bosom, and drawing it forth when she 
was not looking, gazed through it at her, 
and then he beheld no finely-dressed lady, but 
a wizened old woman, robed in yellow, with 
an evil yellow face and evil yellow eyes. He 


hid the glass again, and sat still as stone, though 
the yellow woman pressed on him the different 
dishes again and again. He saw that her face 
grew white with rage. Then all of a sudden she 
disappeared, and the lights went out, and he 
was left alone in the darkness. He rose and 
searched for the door by which he had entered, 
but could not find it nor any way out of the 
room ; so there he was, a prisoner alone with 
the singing-birds, 

" Never mind," quoth he to himself cheerily ; 
" I have at last reached the inside of the castle, 
and surely shall find the heart of my Joan, and 
if I keep my vow and neither eat nor drink here 
or say aught but ask for that which I seek, 
nothing can harm me." 

So he sat down contentedly to wait for what 
might come. There he sat the whole night, and 
no one came near him, but the birds sang so 
beautifully that he almost forgot how the time 

When morning dawned and light again 
shone through the windows, he searched every- 
where for some way out of the room, but the 


door had quite disappeared. Moreover, the 
feast had gone from the table. The day passed, 
and still he was all alone, and as evening again 
drew in he sat and lamented, quite wearied out 
and faint for want of food. But when the 
darkness came, the lamps about the room were 
suddenly lit as if by magic, and all was brilliant, 
and a curtain was drawn aside, and there came 
in a little child with bright eyes and hair, who 
held in one hand a goblet and in the other a well- 
filled plate. These she placed before Michael, 
saying, " My mistress sends you these, and begs 
that you will eat and drink, for you must be both 
hungry and thirsty;" but Michael pushed away 
the goblet and the plate, and said, 

" I seek the heart of Princess Joan ; I beg 
you to give it to me." 

To this the seeming child answered nothing, 
but still pressed on him the food and wine. 
Then Michael took from his bosom the magic 
glass and looked through it, and saw no lovely 
child, but the same yellow hag with shrivelled 
face and evil eyes. With a cry of rage she dis- 
appeared, and though Michael searched every- 


where, he could not find the way by which she 

Now indeed he began to feel that unless he 
ate he could not live much longer, and wept 
from very weakness. 

" Still I will neither eat nor drink," he said, 
"till I have found what I came to seek, and the 
fairy cannot refuse me much longer." 

Night passed and day came, and he lay upon 
a couch quite still, too weak to move, yet he 
feared to sleep lest some spell should be thrown 
upon him. 

So he lay all day, and as evening again 
drew near he began to feel despair, for he knew 
that in another day he would be dead of 

" Oh ! Why have I toiled for seven years," 
he cried aloud, " and at last won my way into 
the castle, if now I am to be starved to death, 
and Joan will never know how I have laboured 
for her sake ?" 

" And why should you be starved to death, 
my Prince ?" said a voice ; and at once the 
lights lit themselves, and into the room stepped 


the figure of the Princess Joan just as he had 
seen her last, dressed in white and gold, and in 
one hand bearing a golden goblet filled with 
clear ruby-coloured wine. 

Michael gave a cry of joy and held out his 
arms to clasp her in them, but as he did so the 
sword sprang as it hung at his side, and he 
remembered his vow and drew back and gazed 
at her without speaking. 

She knelt down beside him and raised the 
goblet to his lips, saying softly, " My poor love, 
how long you have worked for me ! Pray 
drink now, that you may be refreshed ere we 
two start for our home." 

Then as he looked at her face and saw how 
beautiful she was his heart wavered, and he 
thought, " Can it be my Joan, and that I have 
truly won her ?" and almost had he let her place 
the wine at his lips, while with one hand she 
stroked his hair and murmured to him the while 
in a soft voice, when the cup struck against the 
magic glass in his bosom, and he drew it forth 
and looked at her, and he trembled with horror 
and disgust, for there he saw no lovely Princess 


Joan, but the same yellow hag, who held in one 
skinny hand a goblet, formed from a skull, from 
which she would have him drink. 

Michael sprang to his feet and dashed it 
from him, and the ruby wine poured on the 
floor, and there followed an awful noise like a 
peal of thunder, and the room was full of smoke, 
and wild cries were heard. 

He grasped the sword and sat still, trembling 
all over ; but when the smoke cleared away the 
whole aspect of the room was changed; the 
silken hangings, and gold, and pearls, and 
flowers, were all gone, and he was sitting in a 
grim gray chamber like a vault, and in front of 
him stood the yellow hag, whose eyes shone 
spitefully and her lips laughed wickedly ; but in 
one hand she held what it made Michael rejoice 
to see. It was a soft pink feathery thing, with 
wings, but shaped like a heart, and it trembled 
and quivered in her hand. 

" Take it," she cried, " for well have you won 
it. Take it, and tell the Queen how many years 
of toil and labour her proud words and boasting 
have cost. Then when you see her, from whom 


it was stolen, let it fly, but first say over it these 
words : 

" Heart of Joan 
Lost and won 
Fly back home, 
Thy journey's done. 
Take back joy 
Take back pain 
Heart of Joan, 
Fly home again." 

and it will fly to her side, and you will see it no 
more ; and now begone." 

Michael seized the heart with a cry of joy 
and exultation, and then turned and fled from 
the room through an open iron door, and 
passed through the passages, no longer softly 
carpeted and hung with silk, but dreary and 
bare, made of cold stone, down which his foot- 
steps echoed and clashed. 

He hurried from the castle as quickly as 
might be, and once -outside did not stop to look 
for the old man or the monster, but swam the 
moat, and went straight to where his boat lay 
moored as he had left it, nearly seven years 
before, and never paused till he had rowed so 


far that the gray castle and the shore had 
almost passed from view. At last he came 
again to the shore where he had bought his 
boat of the fishermen, and here he went on 
land, and started to walk till he had reached 
Joan's country, and her father's castle. 

He had no money, and his clothes were 
rags, his hair was thin and gray, and his 
shoulders bent. He looked like a poor beggar, 
and he had to beg food as he went, or he would 
have been starved. Still, he was ready to cry 
for joy, because he took with him the little 
soft heart he had gone so far to find. 

He trudged on both day and night, making 
great haste, for he knew that the seven years 
were almost gone, and he was afraid lest 
already he might be too late, and find that Joan 
had married some one else. At last, after many 
weary miles, he reached her country, and drew 
near to the palace where she lived, and here he 
found that the people were all decorating their 
houses, and making preparations as if for some 
great festival. 

He stopped and begged for food from a 


woman who stood by a cottage door, and when 
she had given him some bread, as he ate it he 
asked her to tell him what went on in the 
country, and why there was such rejoicing. 

"It is for the marriage of the King's 
daughter Joan," said the woman ; " To-morrow 
she is to be married to old King Lambert, and 
the wedding will be very grand, but none of 
the country folk like it, for he is old and ugly, 
and they say he does not love her at all, but 
only marries her that he may be king of this 
country as well as his own. The Queen is 
in sore distress about it, and for seven years 
refused her consent; but they will be over 
to-morrow, and so they will be wed, and 
the guests are already beginning to arrive at 
the palace, and each one brings some splendid 


" I will be a guest at that wedding," cried 
Michael; "And I bring the best gift of all 
for the bride ;" and he hurried on again, not 
heeding the woman's scorn and laughter. 

When he came to the palace, he found that 
it was hung with flags, and arches of flowers 


were erected in front of it, and grand lords and 
ladies, and servants stood at the door to receive 
the guests who came. 

Michael went as near as he dared, afraid 
lest he should be driven away by the servants, 
and then he saw a little foot-page, and he went 
to him and said, 

" Please tell me where is the Princess Joan, 
and what she is doing." 

" She is sitting with the King and Queen 
and King Lambert in the state-room, to receive 
the guests and accept the presents they bring," 
said the page. 

" I am a guest, and I bring a present 
for her," cried Michael; "Tell me how I 
shall get into the palace that I may give it to 

On hearing this the page burst out laughing, 
and told the other servants what he said. And 
they were very angry, and seized Michael, and 
some would have ducked him in the pond, and 
some would have taken him before the King, 
but they said, " Not now wait till the wedding 
is over to-morrow, and then we will see how he 


will punish the beggar-man for his imperti- 

So they took him off to a stone tower out- 
side the garden gates and thrust him into it, 
and locked the door, and there was only one 
little window high up and barred across with 
bars, and from it he could see the palace and 
the gardens. 

Then at last he gave way to despair. " Of 
what avail were all my years of toil, and for 
what am I gray and old before my time," he 
cried, " if after all, when I have earned that for 
which I worked so long, I may not give it to 
Joan, but must remain a prisoner and see her 
pass by to marry some one else?" and he threw 
himself on the ground and cried aloud. 

At night as he lay and mourned, he heard 
sounds of merrymaking, and music and laughter 
from the castle. Sometimes he called out, "Joan ! 
Joan ! I am here I who have worked for you 
for years, and brought home your stolen heart, 
and now will you wed King Lambert in spite of 
all?" sometimes he beat against the bars of the 
prison window, but all in vain, and at last, when 


all sound had ceased from the castle, he lay 
silent upon the ground, caring no more for life. 

When the sun rose, and there was again a 
stir without, he got up and looked from the 
window, and saw the old nurse who walked by 
herself in the garden, and she looked very 
sad. Then Michael called out, " Do you 
not know me ? You at least, who bid me go, 
and praised me then, should remember me 
now." On hearing this the old nurse drew 
near the prison window, and looked at him, and 
said, " Who are you, and why are you here ? 
My eyes are old, and my ears are deaf, but I 
think I have seen you, and heard your voice 

" Seven years ago," said Michael, " I too was 
a bridegroom, who came to wed your Princess, 
and for seven long years have I worked, that 
I might bring home to her the heart she had 
not. Go and ask your Queen, why she has 
broken her pledge to wait for seven years, till 
Prince Michael should return." 

" Prince Michael ! Is it really Prince 
Michael ?" cried the old nurse joyfully. " And 


you come in time, for our Princess is not 
married yet, and she must pass by here, on her 
way to church. So you shall call to her as she 
passes by, and speak for yourself." 

"Then keep near and tell me when she 
comes," said Michael, "lest she go by without 
seeing me." 

Presently the whole castle was astir, and 
trumpets were sounding, and clarions ringing. 
Then when the sun was high, Michael heard the 
tramping of horses, and the sound of music, and 
the old nurse said to him, " Here she is," and 
he looked between the bars of the prison window 
and saw a grand procession, and his heart gave 
a bound, for in their midst, in a golden gown, 
and seated on a white palfrey, was Princess 
Joan, and she looked just as lovely as when he 
went away seven years before. 

On one side of her rode her father and 
mother, and the Queen's face was most mourn- 
ful, and her eyes were red with crying. On 
the other rode an ugly old man, whom Michael 
guessed to be King Lambert, and he smiled 
and bowed to the people, but they muttered 


and grumbled, when they looked at him, and 
saw how ugly and wicked, he looked. 

When Michael saw them coming, he took 
from his bosom the little pink heart, and stroked 
it fondly as he whispered over it, 

"Heart of Joan 
Lost and won 
Fly back home, 
Thy journey's done. 
Take back joy 
Take back pain 
Heart of Joan, 
Fly home again ;" 

and at once it spread its wings and fluttered 
through the bars of the prison, and over the 
heads of the people, who shouted, "Look at 
the pink bird !" For a moment it rested at the 
side of the Princess Joan, and then disappeared. 
She gave a scream, and cried, 

" My mother ! My father ! What has hap- 
pened ? Oh see, it is Michael who has re- 
turned !" and ere they could stop her she had 
turned her palfrey's head towards the prison 
window, and pushed her white arms through the 
bars to clasp the Prince. 

and ere they could stop her she had turned her palfrey's head towards the prison 

indow, and pushed her white arms through the bars to clasp the Prince." v. 128. 


"Michael, my love!'* she cried, "How 
gray and worn you are now. How hard you 
must have laboured for me through these long 
years. Now, how shall I pay you, save by 
loving you all my life!" and she tried to beat 
down the bars of the prison window. 

When the people heard her, they cried, "It 
is Prince Michael, who went seven years ago, 
and who we all thought was dead, and he is 
returned in time to marry our Princess. Now 
will we indeed have a wedding, and she shall 
marry the Prince who has toiled so long for her;" 
and King and Queen and people laughed for 
joy. 'Twas in vain for King Lambert to rage, 
and cry that the Princess was betrothed to him. 

"Nay!" said the Queen, "She has been 
pledged to Prince Michael for seven years. 
We are grieved for your sake, King Lambert, 
but we cannot break our royal word." 

Then the people burst into the prison and 
brought out Michael, all torn and gray as he 
was, and Princess Joan kissed him before them 
all, and begged that he would marry her at 
once, that every one might see how well she 


loved him and how grateful she was. So they 
brought a fine white horse with a grand gold 
saddle, and jewelled bridle, and placed Michael 
upon it, and he rode to church beside the 
Princess, and married her, and the people threw 
flowers before them, and bells rang and trum- 
pets sounded, and all were glad. 

And when it was done Michael was dressed 
in purple and gold, and messengers were sent 
to his father and mother and the old wizard, 
that they might come and see how he had come 
home victorious, and rejoicings filled the whole 

" For now we are sure of a good King/' the 
people said. " See, he has already shown what 
he can do. Surely no one else could ever have 
found the heart of Princess Joan." 

" Good-day, friend," said he. " If you have nothing to do, perhaps you would not mind 
carrying my load for me for a little." p. 131. 

PEDLAR was toiling along 
a dusty road carrying his pack 
on his back, when he saw a 
donkey grazing by the way- 

"Good -day, friend," said 
he. "If you have nothing to do, perhaps you 
would not mind carrying my load for me for a 

" If I do so, what will you give me ?" said 
the donkey. 

" I will give you two pieces of gold," said 
the pedlar, but he did not speak the truth, for 
he knew he had no gold to give. 

"Agreed," said the donkey. So they 
journeyed on together in a very friendly 


manner, the donkey carrying the pedlar's pack, 
and the pedlar walking by his side. After a 
time they met a raven, who was looking for 
worms in the roadside, and the donkey called 
out to him, 

"Good-morrow, black friend. If you are 
going our way, you would do well to sit upon 
my back and drive away the flies, which worry 
me sadly." 

" And what will you pay me to do this ? " 
asked the raven. 

" Money is no object to me," said the 
donkey, "so I will give you three pieces of 
gold." And he too knew he was making a 
false promise, for he had no gold at all to 

" Agreed," said the raven. So they went on 
in high good humour, the donkey carrying the 
pedlar's wares, and the raven sitting on the 
donkey's back driving away the flies. 

After a time they met a hedge-sparrow, and 
the raven called out to it, 

" Good-day, little cousin. Do you want to 
earn a little money ? If so, bring me some 


worms from the bank as we go along, for I had 
no breakfast, and am very hungry." 

"What will you give me for it?" asked the 

" Let us say four pieces of gold," said the 
raven grandly ; " for I have saved more during 
my long life than I know how to spend." But 
he knew this was not true, for he had not saved 
any gold at all. 

"Very well," said the hedge-sparrow, and so 
on they went, the donkey carrying the pedlar's 
pack, and the raven keeping the flies away from 
the donkey, and the hedge-sparrow bringing 
worms to the raven. 

Presently they saw in the distance a good- 
sized town, and the pedlar took out from his 
pack, some shawls and stuffs and hung them 
over the donkey's back that the passers-by 
might see, and buy if they were so disposed. 
On the top of the other goods lay a small 
scarlet blanket, and when he saw it the hedge- 
sparrow said to the pedlar, 

" What will you take for that little blanket ? 
It seems to be a good one. Name your price 


and you shall have it whatever it is, for I am 
badly in want of a blanket just now ;" but as the 
hedge-sparrow had not a penny in the world, 
he knew he could not pay for it. 

" The price of the blanket is five pieces of 
gold," said the pedlar. 

"That seems to me to be very dear," said 
the hedge - sparrow. " I don't mind giving 
you four pieces of gold for it, but five is too 

" Agreed," said the pedlar, and he chuckled 
to himself and thought, "Now I shall be able 
to pay the donkey, otherwise I might have had 
some trouble in getting rid of him." 

The hedge-sparrow flew to the raven's side 
and whispered in his ear, " Please to pay me 
the four pieces of gold you owe me, for we are 
coming to a town, and I must be turning back." 

" Four pieces of gold is really too much for 
bringing a few worms," said the raven. " It is 
absurd to expect such payment, but I will give 
you three, and you shall have them almost 
immediately," and he bent down over the don- 
key's ear and whispered, 


" My friend, it is time you paid me the three 
pieces of gold which you promised, for the 
pedlar will stop at this town, and you will not 
have to go farther with him." 

" On thinking it over," said the donkey, " I 
have come to the conclusion that three pieces 
of gold are really a great deal too much to give 
for having a few flies driven away. You must 
have known that I was only joking when I said 
it, but I will let you have two, though I con- 
sider that it is much more than the job was 
worth ;" and the donkey turned again to the 
pedlar, saying, " Now, good sir, your two 
pieces of gold, if you please." 

" In a moment," said the pedlar, and turn- 
ing to the hedge-sparrow, said, " I really must 
have the money for the blanket at once." 

" So you shall," answered the hedge-sparrow, 
and cried angrily to the raven, " I want my 
money now, and cannot wait." 

"In an instant," answered the raven, and 
again whispered to the donkey, "Why can't 
you pay me honestly? I should be ashamed 
of trying to slip out of my debts in such a way." 


" I won't keep you waiting a second," 
said the donkey, and he turned once more to 
the pedlar and cried, " Come, give me my 
money. For shame ! a man like you trying to 
cheat a poor beast like me." 

Then the pedlar said to the hedge-sparrow, 
" Pay me for my blanket, or I '11 wring your 

And the hedge-sparrow cried to the raven, 
" Give me my money or I '11 peck out your 

And the raven croaked to the donkey, "If 
you don't pay me, I '11 bite off your tail." 

And the donkey again cried to the pedlar, 
" You dishonest wretch, pay me my money or 
I'll kick you soundly." 

And they made such an uproar outside the 
walls of the town, that the beadle came out to 
see what it was all about. Each turned to him 
and began to complain of the other loudly. 

" You are a set of rogues and vagabonds," 
said the beadle, " and you shall all come before 
the mayor, and he'll settle your quarrels pretty 
quickly, and treat you as you deserve." 


At this they all begged to be allowed to go 
away, each one saying he did not care about 
being paid at all. But the beadle would not 
listen to them, and led them straight away to 
the market-place, where the mayor sat judging 
the people. 

" Now, whom have we here ?" cried he. " A 
pedlar, a donkey, a raven, and a hedge-sparrow. 
A set of worthless vagabonds, 1 11 be bound ! 
Let us hear what they have to say for themselves." 

On this the pedlar began to complain of the 
hedge-sparrow, and the hedge-sparrow of the 
raven, and the raven of the donkey, and the 
donkey of the pedlar. 

The mayor did not heed them much, but he 
eyed the pedlar's pack, and at length inter- 
rupted them, and said, 

" I am convinced that you are a set of good- 
for-nothing fellows, and one is quite as bad as 
the other, so I order that the pedlar be locked 
up in the prison, that the donkey be soundly 
well thrashed, and that the raven and the 
hedge-sparrow both have their tail-feathers 
pulled out, and then be turned out of the town. 


As for the blanket, it seems to me to be the 
only good thing in the whole matter, and as I 
cannot allow you to keep the cause of such a 
disturbance, I will take it for myself. Beadle, 
lead the prisoners away." 

So the beadle did as he was told, and the ped- 
lar was locked up for many days in the prison. 

"It is very sad to think to what straits an 
honest man may be brought," he sighed to 
himself as he sat lamenting his hard fate. " In 
future this will be a warning to me to keep clear 
of hedge-sparrows. If the hedge-sparrow had 
paid me as he ought, I should not be here now." 

Meantime the donkey was being soundly 
well thrashed, and after each blow he cried, 

" Alas ! alas ! See what comes to an inno- 
cent quadruped for having to do with human 
beings. Had the pedlar given me the money 
he owed, I should not now be beaten thus. In 
future I will never make a bargain with men." 

The raven and the hedge-sparrow hopped 
out of the town by different roads, and both 
were very sad, for they had lost all their tail 
feathers, which the beadle had pulled out. 


"Alas!" croaked the raven, "my fate is 
indeed a hard one. But it serves me right for 
trusting a donkey who goes on his feet and can- 
not fly. It is truly a warning to me never again 
to trust anything without a beak." 

The hedge-sparrow was quite crestfallen, and 
could scarcely keep from tears. "It all comes 
of my being so taken in by that raven," he 
sighed. " But I should have known that these 
large birds are never honest. In future I will 
be wise, and never make a bargain with any- 
thing bigger or stronger than myself." 

NCE there was a baker who 
had a very bad, violent tem- 
per, and whenever a batch 
of bread was spoiled he flew 
into such a rage, that his 
wife and daughters dared 
not go near him. One day it happened that all 
his bread was burnt, and on this he stamped 
and raved with anger. He threw the loaves 
all about the floor, when one, burnt blacker than 
the rest, broke in half, and out of it crept a tiny 
thin black man, no thicker than an eel, with 
long arms and legs. 

" What are you making all this fuss about, 
Master Baker ?" said he. "If you will give me 
a home in your oven I will see to the baking of 

" If you will give me a home in your oven I will see to the baking of your bread, and will 
answer fur it that you shall never have so much as a loaf spoiled." P. 141. 


your bread, and will answer for it that you shall 
never have so much as a loaf spoiled." 

"And pray what sort of bread would it be, if 
you were in the oven, and helped to bake it ?" 
said the baker ; " I think my customers might 
not like to eat it." 

"On the contrary," said the imp, "they 
would like it exceedingly. It is true that it 
would make them rather unhappy, but that will 
not hurt you, as you need not eat it yourself." 

" Why should it make them unhappy ?" 
said the baker. "If it is good bread it won't 
do any one harm, and if it is bad they won't 
buy it" 

"It will taste very good," replied the imp, 
" But it will make all who eat it discontented, 
and they will think themselves very unfortunate 
whether they are so or no ; but this will not do 
you any harm, and I promise you that you shall 
sell as much as you wish." 

" Agreed !" said the baker. So the little imp 
crept into the oven and curled himself into the 
darkness behind, and the baker saw no more of 


But next day he made a great batch of bread, 
and though he took no heed of the time when he 
put it in, and drew it out, just as he wanted it, it 
was done quite right neither too dark nor too 
light and the baker was in high good humour. 

The first person who tasted the bread was 
the chief justice. He came down to breakfast 
in high spirits, for he had just heard that an old 
aunt was dead, and had left him a great deal of 
money. So he kissed his wife and chucked his 
daughters under the chin, and told them that he 
had good news for them. His old aunt had left 
him twenty thousand pounds in her will. On this 
his wife clapped her hands for joy, and his daugh- 
ters ran to him and kissed him, and begged him 
to let them have some of it. So they all sat down 
to breakfast in great glee, but no sooner had the 
justice tasted the bread than his face fell. 

" This is excellent bread," he said, taking a 
large slice ; " I wish everything else were as 
good ;" and he heaved a deep sigh. 

"Why?" cried his wife, who had not yet 
begun to eat. " This morning, I am sure, there 
is nothing for you to complain of." 


" Nay !" said the mayor ; " it is very nice to 
have twenty thousand pounds, but think how 
much nicer it would have been if it had been 
thirty. How much more one could have done 
with that ! Or even if it had been twenty -five 
thousand pounds, or even twenty-one. Twenty- 
one thousand pounds is a very nice sum of money, 
but twenty thousand pounds is no good at all. 
I am not sure that it would not be better not to 
have had any." 

"Nonsense!" cried his wife, who was now 
eating her breakfast also ; " you are very wicked 
to be so discontented ; but one thing I do say. 
It would have been much nicer if we had had it 
when we were young and better able to enjoy 
it. Money is very little use to people at our 
time of life. It would have been really nice if 
we had had it fifteen years ago. As it is, I can't 
say I care much for it, and it makes me sad to 
think we did not get it before." 

" Nay," cried the daughters ; " in that case 
how much better it would have been for us to 
have it instead of you; we are young, and 
able to enjoy ourselves, and we could have 


given you a little of it if you'd liked, but we 
could have been very happy with the rest ; as 
it is, it is no pleasure to us." 

So they fell to quarrelling about the money, 
and by the time breakfast was done, they all 
had tears in their eyes, and felt discontented 
and unhappy. 

The next person to eat the bread was the 
village doctor. All night long he had been 
sitting up with a man who had broken his leg, 
and he had feared lest he should die, but as 
morning came he saw he would live, so he 
returned home to his wife in very good spirits, 
although he was sadly tired. The wife had 
already had her breakfast, but she had made 
all ready for her husband, with a loaf of the 
baker's new bread. 

" See, dear husband," she said, " here is 
your breakfast, and some nice bread quite new, 
because I know you like it. How glad we 
ought to be, that this poor man is likely to 

" Yes, indeed," said the doctor ; " being up 
all night is tiring work, but I don't grudge it 


when I know that it does some good/' and then 
he began to eat. " I am not sure, after all, that 
I have done such a good thing in curing this 
man. It is true that his broken leg hurt him 
very much, but perhaps when he is well again, 
he may break his back, and that would be 
much worse. Perhaps I had better have left 
him to die. I daresay when he is quite well, 
all kinds of misfortunes will befall him ; I had 
much better have let him alone." 

"Why," cried his wife in surprise, "what 
are you saying, husband ? Are you not a 
doctor, and is it not your business to cure 
people ? And when you succeed ought you not 
to be glad?" 

" I wish I were not a doctor," said the hus- 
band, sighing. "It would be much better if 
there were no doctors at all ;" and he sat and 
lamented, and nothing his wife could say, could 
cheer him. 

In a pretty little cottage near the doctor's 
house lived a young couple, who were newly 
married, and were as happy as the day was long. 
Their cottage was covered with roses, and filled 


with pretty things, and they had everything 
their hearts could desire. This morning they 
both came down smiling and happy, and the 
young wife kissed her husband, and sang for 
joy. So they sat down to breakfast, chattering 
like two birds in a nest ; but no sooner had the 
husband tasted the bread than his face fell, and 
he was silent for a time ; then he said, 

"It is a very terrible thing to think how 
happy we are, for it cannot last. Something 
melancholy is sure to happen to us, and till it 
comes we shall live in dread of it ; for we know 
happiness never lasts, and this is a thought that 
makes me very sad." 

The wife had now also taken some bread. 

" What is this you are saying ?" she said. 
" How can you think such dreadful things ? I 
do not like you when you talk like that ; and I 
think it is very hard for me to be married to a 
man who wants to be unhappy." 

" The best thing we can hope for," said the 
husband, sighing, " is for some great misfortune 
to befall us ; then we should be all right, for we 
should know then, that we knew the worst that 


could come. As it is we shall live in suspense 
all our days." 

" Now," cried his wife, " I am indeed un- 
fortunate. What could be worse than to have 
a husband who does not like being happy ? I 
wish I had married some one else ; or indeed 
had no husband at all." 

So both began to grumble, and at last 
to quarrel, and finally both were crying with 

Not far out of the village was a large 
pleasant farmhouse, standing amongst fields, and 
the farmer was a hale, bright man, with a good 
wife and pretty children. He was very busy 
just now getting in the corn, for it was autumn, 
and he stood among his men, directing them as 
they worked in the fields. He had not had 
time to have a proper breakfast before going 
to work, but his wife sent some out to him 
with some of the baker's new bread, and he 
sat down under a tree to eat it. As he did 
so he looked up at the farmhouse, and thought, 
with pride, that it was the largest farm in all 
the country round, and that it had belonged to 


his father, and his grandfather, and his great- 
grandfather, before him. 

"'Tis a fine old house, for sure," thought he, 
as he took a large piece of bread, " 'Tis so well 
built and strong ;" but no sooner had he swal- 
lowed a mouthful than his thoughts changed. 

" What should I do if it were to fall down 
and crush me some day," he said to himself. 
"After all, 'tis only built of brick, and might 
tumble any day. How much stronger it would 
have been if it had been built of stone. Then 
it would not have been nearly so likely to give 
way. Really when my great-grandfather built 
it he should have thought of this. How selfish 
all men are;" and he became quite unhappy 
lest his house should fall, and lamented while 
he ate. 

In the kitchen the farmer's wife was very 
busy cooking and cleaning, and scarcely stopped 
to eat till near mid-day. Then she took up a 
piece of bread and cheese, and leant against the 
window as she ate it, that she might watch for 
her eldest girl and boy, Janey and Jimmy, who 
would now be returning from school. 


" Our baker really bakes very decent bread," 
said she ; " 'tis almost as good as my own ;" and 
she went on eating till she saw her two children 
coming through the fields together. 

" Here they come," said she ; " How bonny 
they look. Really I ought to be very proud of 
them. I don't know which is the prettier, 
Janey or Jimmy, but 'tis a pity, for sure, that 
Janey is the eldest. It would be much better 
if Jimmy were older than she. 'Tis a bad thing 
for the sister to be older than the brother. 
Now, if he were her age, and she were his, that 
would be really nice, for then he could take care 
of her and see after her; but, as it is, she will try 
to direct him, and boys never like to obey their 
sisters ; I really almost think I had better not 
have had any children at all," and the tears 
filled her eyes, and when her girl and boy ran in 
to her, her face was very sad, and she seemed 
to be scarcely glad to see them. 

So things went on all over the village. 
Each one as he tasted the bread grew discon- 
tented and angry, till at last all the people went 
about grumbling and complaining, or else shed- 


ding tears outright. Only the baker himself 
was cheerful and merry, and sang as he kneaded 
his dough, and sold it to his customers with a 
light heart, for his trade had never been so 
good. Every atom of bread he made was sold 
at once, so he cared not one whit for the trouble 
of the other people, and laughed to himself 
when he heard them complaining, and thought 
of the words of the dark little elf. 

One day as he stood kneading at the door 
and whistling to himself, the doctor walked past 
and looked angrily at him. 

" What on earth are you making that whist- 
ling for ?" he asked. " I declare one would 
think that you were as happy as a man could 

" And so I am," said the baker, " And so I 
should think were you too, for you have nothing 
to trouble you." 

" Nothing to trouble me, forsooth !" cried 
the doctor in a rage. " How dare you insult 
me in this way ? I tell you what it is, my fine 
fellow, I think you are very impertinent, and 
if I have any more of your impudence I will 


take my stick and thrash you soundly. It 
really is not to be borne, that one man should 
be allowed to tell another that he has nothing 
to complain of." 

" Nay, you can have as much to complain 
of as you like, so long as I have not," cried 
the baker, and he laughed loudly. This only 
made the doctor angrier still, and he was just 
going to seize the baker when up came the 

"Was there ever such a village as this?" 
he cried. "It is not fit for any one to live in, 
there is always such fighting and quarrelling 
going on. What is the matter here ?" 

" Matter enough," cried the doctor. " Here 
is a fellow dares to tell me I have nothing to 
complain of, nor he either." 

" This is monstrous ! " said the farmer ; " he 
deserves to be hung. How dares he say such 
a thing on such a wretched day as this, with 
such a blue sky and such a bright sun ?" 

"Why, Master Farmer," cried the baker, 
" yesterday you grumbled because it was rain- 
ing, and now you grumble because it is fine." 


" And I tell you that it is enough to make 
one grumble," said the farmer. "It should 
have been fair yesterday, and should have 
rained to-day. You ought to be ashamed of 
such talk, Master Baker, and I think it would 
serve you justly right if we took you before the 
Justice and let us see what he thinks of your 

"Nay!" cried the baker, beginning to be 
frightened, " what have I done that I am to be 
taken before the Justice ?" 

"What have you done, indeed!" said the 
doctor. " We will see if the Justice cannot find 
that out pretty quickly." So they seized the 
baker and dragged him away in spite of himself, 
and as they pulled him through the village the 
people thronged about them, and followed till 
there was quite a large crowd. 

The Justice sat at his door smoking a pipe, 
with tears in his eyes. 

" Now what is all this uproar for ?" cried he. 
" Am I never to be left in peace ? How hard 
is the life of a Justice!" but he got up and 
came out on the steps to meet them. 


" See here," cried the doctor ; " here is a 
man who says he has nothing to complain of, 
and we have brought him to you, to know if he 
is to be punished, or to be allowed to go on 
talking like this." 

"Certainly not," cried the Justice, "or we 
shall soon have the whole village in an uproar. 
Let him be taken to the market-place, and I 
will order that he be publicly flogged by the 

At this the poor baker burst out crying, 
and entreated to be let off, saying that now 
indeed he had plenty to complain of, but 
at this the justice was angrier still. "Then," 
said he, "you certainly deserve to be flogged 
for having told an untruth before, when you 
said you had not. Take him away, and do as 
I bid." 

So they dragged the baker off to the 
market-place, and made a ring round him, so 
that he could not escape, and then there came 
down two or three soldiers with ropes in their 
hands, and they seized him, and began to beat 
him before all the crowd. 


But by this time all the people were so en- 
raged against him, that a number of them cried, 
" Let us go to his house and pull it down." So 
off they ran to the baker's house, and broke the 
windows and knocked about the furniture, and 
then some of them fell on the oven, and 
wrenched off the door, and others seized the 
pokers and tongs, and smashed in its sides, and 
in the hurry and scuffle, the little dark man 
crept out of the oven and scuttled away unseen 
by any one. But no sooner had he gone than 
a great change came across the people. 

The soldiers on the green stopped beating 
the baker, and looked at each other aghast, and 
the Justice called out, 

" Stop ! What is all this uproar about ? 
And what has this man done that you are 
beating him without my orders ?" and the 
people in the crowd whispered to each other ; 
"It is true, what has he done ?" and they 
slunk away, looking ashamed. 

The Justice also at first looked somewhat 
ashamed of himself, but he drew himself up, 
and looking very important, said, 


" There, my man, you are forgiven for this 
once, and now go your way, and see that you 
behave better in future ;" and then he walked 
away with much dignity. 

So the baker was left alone in the market- 
place, and he cried for rage and pain. 

" This all comes of the oven imp," cried he, 
as he limped home. " Directly I get home I will 
drive him out of my oven, and away from my 
house. Better to have a hundred batches of 
bread spoiled than to be flogged for saying one 
is happy." But when he reached his house 
the little dark man was nowhere to be found ; 
there was nought but the broken oven with 
its sides battered in. 

The baker mended the oven, and from that 
time forth his bread was just like other people's ; 
but for all that he had learnt to be quite 
contented, for now he knew that there were 
worse things than having his loaves burnt 
black, and he was only too well pleased to take 
his chance with other people, without the help 
of fairy folk. As for the little black imp, he 
was never heard of more, and the people in 

I 5 6 


the village soon recovered their good humour, 
and were just as happy and contented as they 
had been before they tasted the bread of 

LD King Roland lay upon his 
death-bed, and as he had no 
son to reign after him he 
sent for his three nephews, 
Aldovrand, Aldebert, and 
Alderete, and addressed them 
as follows : 

" My dear nephews, I feel that my days are 
now drawing to an end, and one of you will 
have to be King when I am dead. But there 
is no pleasure in being King. My people have 
been difficult to govern and never content with 
what I did for them, so that my life has been a 
hard one, and though I have watched you all 
closely, still I know not, which is most fit to 
wear the crown ; so my wish is that you should 


each try it in turn. You, Aldovrand, as you 
are the oldest, shall be King first, and if you 
reign happily, all well and good ; but if you fail, 
let Aldebert take your place ; and if he fail, let 
him give it up to Alderete, and then you will 
know which is the best fitted to govern." 

On this the three young men all thanked 
their uncle, and each one declared that he would 
do his best, and soon after old King Roland died 
and was buried with great state and ceremony. 

So now Aldovrand was to be King, and he 
was crowned, and there were great rejoicings 

" 'Tis a fine thing to be King," cried he in 
much glee ; " Now I can amuse myself and do 
just as I please, and there will be no one to 
stop me, and I will lie in bed as late as I like in 
the morning, for who dares blame one, if one 
is King ?" 

Next morning the Prime Minister and the 
Chancellor came to the palace to see the new 
King and settle affairs of state, but they were 
told that his majesty was in bed and had given 
orders that no one should disturb him. 


" This is a bad beginning," sighed the 
Prime Minister. 

" Very bad," echoed the Chancellor. 

When they came back to the palace later in 
the day the King was playing at battledore and 
shuttlecock with some of his gentlemen, and was 
very angry at being interrupted in his game. 

"A pretty thing," he cried, "That I the 
King am to be sent for hither and thither as if 
I were a lacquey. They must go away and 
come another time ;" and on hearing this the 
Prime Minister and Chancellor looked graver 

But next morning there came the Com- 
matider-in-Chief and the Lord High Admiral, 
as well as the Prime Minister and the Chan- 
cellor, all wanting to have an audience with the 
King, and as he was not out of bed and they 
could not wait any longer, they all stood outside 
his bedroom door, and knocked to gain admit- 
tance, and at last he came out in a towering 
rage, and throwing them his crown, cried, 

" Here, let one of my cousins be King, for 
I will not bear this longer. It is much more 


trouble than it is worth, so Aldebert or Alderete 
may try it and see how they like it, but as for 
me, I have had enough of it," and he ran down- 
stairs and out of the palace door, leaving the 
Prime Minister and the Chancellor and the 
General and Admiral staring at each other in 

Aldovrand walked out of the town unnoticed, 
and turned towards the country, whistling 
cheerily to himself. When he had gone some 
way in the fields, he came to a farmhouse, and 
in a meadow near, the farmer stood talking 
to his men. Aldovrand went straight up to 
him, and, touching his hat, asked if he could 
give him any work. 

" Work ?" cried the farmer, little thinking he 
was talking to his late king. " Why, what sort 
of work can you do ?" 

" Well," said Aldovrand, " I am not very 
fond of running about, but if you want any one 
to mind your sheep, or keep the birds from your 
corn, I could do that nicely." 

" I tell you what you can do if you like," 
said the farmer. " I am wanting a goose-boy 


to take care of my geese. See, there they are 
on the common. All you will have to do is to 
see that they don't stray away, and to drive 
them in at night." 

" That will suit me exactly," cried Aldo- 
vrand. " I will begin at once ;" and he went 
straight on to the common, and when he had 
collected the geese together lay down to watch 
them in high good humour. 

"This is capital," he cried, "and much 
better than being King at the palace. Here 
there is no Prime Minister or Chancellor to 
come worrying ;" and he lay watching the geese 
all day very contentedly. 

When the Prime Minister and the Chan- 
cellor knew that Aldovrand was really gone, 
they went in a great hurry to Aldebert to tell 
him that it was his turn to be King. But when 
he heard how his cousin had run away, he looked 

" I will do my best," quoth he ; "but I really 
know very little about the matter. However, 
you must tell me, and I will do whatever you 



At hearing this the Prime Minister and the 
Chancellor were delighted. 

" Now we have got the right sort of King," 
they said ; and both wagged their heads with 

So King Aldebert was crowned, and there 
were great rejoicings all over the country. 

Early next morning he was up all ready to 
receive his Ministers, and first came the Prime 

" Your Majesty," said he, " I come to you 
on an affair of much importance. A great part 
of our city is falling down, and it is very neces- 
sary that we should rebuild it at once. If you 
will command it, therefore, I will see that it is 

" I have no doubt you are right," said the 
King; "pray let them begin building at once ;" 
and the Prime Minister went away delighted. 

Scarcely had he gone when in came the 

"Your Majesty," said he, "I wish to lay 
before you the state of our army. Our soldiers 
have had a great deal of fighting to do lately, 


and are beginning to be discontented, but the 
late King, your uncle, would never attend to 
their wants." 

" Pray do what you like," said King Alde- 

"To satisfy them," said the Commander- 
in-Chief, " I think that we should double their 
pay. This would keep them in a good humour, 
and all will go well." 

"By all means, that will certainly be the 
best way," said Aldebert. Let it be given to 
them at once ;" and on hearing this, the 
Commander-in-Chief went away right merrily. 

When he had gone, there came in the 
Chancellor with a long face. 

"Your Majesty," he said, "I have this 
morning been to the treasury, and I find that 
there is scarcely any money left. The late 
King, your uncle, spent so much in spite of all 
I could say, that now it is almost all gone. 
Your Majesty must now save all you can for the 
next year or two, and you ought also to lower 
the soldiers' pay, and stop all public works." 

" I have no doubt you are quite right," cried 


the King. " You know best, let it be done as 
you wish." 

But next morning in came the Prime 
Minister with a frowning face. " How is this, 
your Majesty?" cried he. "Just as we are 
beginning our buildings, the Chancellor comes 
and tells us that we are not to have any money 
to build with." He had not done speaking 
when the Commander-in-Chief burst into the 
room unable to conceal his rage. 

" Yesterday your Majesty told me that all 
the soldiers should have double pay, and this 
morning I hear, that instead of that, their wages 
are to be lowered !" Here he was interrupted 
by the Chancellor, who came running in looking 
much excited, 

"Your Majesty," he cried, "did you not 
yesterday say we were now to begin saving, 
and that I was not to allow any more money 
to be spent, and that the army must do with 
less pay ?" 

And then all three began to quarrel among 
themselves. When he saw how angry they 
were, King Aldebert took off his crown and said, 


" I am sure you are each of you quite right ; 
but I think I am scarcely fit to be a King. 
Indeed I think you had better find my cousin 
Alderete, and let him be crowned, and I will 
seek my fortune elsewhere." And he had 
slipped out of the room, and run downstairs 
and out of the palace, before they could stop 

He went briskly down the highroad into 
the country, the same way that Aldovrand had 

After he had gone some way, he met a 
travelling tinker who sat by the roadside 
mending tin cans, with his little fire at his side. 

Aldebert stood watching him, and at last 
said, "How cleverly you mend those holes ! 
You must lead a pleasant life, going from house 
to house in the green lanes mending wares. 
Do you think I could learn how to do it if you 
would teach me ? " 

The tinker, who was an old man, looked at 
him and said, 

" Well, I don't mind giving you a trial if you 
like to come with me, for I want a strong young 


man sometimes to help me wheel my little cart, 
and I'll teach you my trade, and we'll see what 
you can make of it." 

So Aldebert was delighted, and went with 
the tinker. 

When they knew he was really gone the 
Prime Minister and the Chancellor looked at 
each other in dismay. 

" This will never do/' cried they ; " we must 
go at once to Prince Alderete ; and let us hope 
he may do better than his cousins." 

When Prince Alderete heard that it was 
his turn to reign he jumped for joy. 

" Now," cried he, " at last I will show what 
a king should really be like. My cousins were 
neither of them any good, but they shall now 
see how different I will be." 

So he was crowned, and again there were 
great rejoicings all over the country. 

Next day he sat in state to receive the 
Chancellor and Prime Minister and hear what 
they had to say. 

"My friends," said he to them, "a good 
King ought to be like a father to his people, 


and this is what I mean to be. I mean to 
arrange everything for them myself, and if they 
will only obey me, and do as I direct, they are 
sure to be both prosperous and happy." 

On hearing this both Prime Minister and 
Chancellor looked anxious, and the Chancellor 

" I fear, your Majesty, your people will not 
like to be too much meddled with." At this the 
King was very angry, and bid them see about 
their own business, and not presume to teach 
him his. 

When they had gone he went to take a 
drive in his city, that he might see it and know 
it well; but directly he returned to the palace he 
sent for the Prime Minister, and when he had 
arrived, said, 

" I already see much to be altered in my 
kingdom. I do not like the houses in which 
many of the people dwell, nor indeed the 
dresses they wear ; but what strikes me most of 
all is, that wherever I go I smell a strong smell 
of pea soup. Now, nothing is so unwholesome 
as pea soup, and therefore it would not be right 


in me to allow the people to go on eating it. I 
command, therefore, that no one shall again 
make, or eat pea soup, within my realm on pain 
of death." 

Again the Prime Minister looked very 
grave, and began to say, 

" Your Majesty, your subjects will surely not 
like to be hindered from eating and drinking what 
pleases them !" But the King cried out in a rage, 

" Go at once and do as I bid you." So the 
Prime Minister had to obey. 

Early next morning when the King arose 
he heard a great hubbub under his window, and 
when he went to see what it was, he saw a vast 
mob of people all shouting, "The King, the 
King ! Where is this King who would dictate 
to us what we shall eat and drink ?" 

When he saw them he was terribly 
frightened, and at once sent off for the Prime 
Minister and Chancellor to come to his aid. 

" Pray go and tell them to eat what they 
like," he cried when they arrived ; " But, do you 
know, I find it will not at all suit me to be 
King. You had best try Aldovrand, or Aide- 


bert, again;" and, so saying, he took off his 
crown and laid it down, and slipped away out 
of the palace before either Prime Minister or 
Chancellor could stop him. 

He went out of the back door, and ran, 
and ran, and ran, till he had left the town far 
behind, and came to the country fields and 
lanes the same way that his two cousins had 
gone ; and as he went he met a sweep trudg- 
ing along carrying his long brooms over his 

" My friend," cried Alderete, stopping him, 
" Of all things in the world I should like to be a 
sweep and learn how to sweep chimneys. May 
I go with you, and will you teach me your 
trade ?" 

The sweep looked surprised, but said, " Yes, 
Alderete could go with him if he chose, and as 
he was now going on to the farmhouses, on the 
road, to sweep the chimneys, he could begin at 
once." So Alderete went with the sweep, carry- 
ing some of his brooms for him. 

After a time the people outside the palace 
grew quiet, when they heard that the King 


would not interfere with them further. And 
when all was again still, the Prime Minister and 
Chancellor went to seek the King, but he was 
nowhere to be found in the palace. 

"This will never do," cried they. "We 
must have a King somehow, so we had best 
have back one of the others." So they started 
to look for Aldovrand or Aldebert. 

They sought them all over the city, and at 
last they came into the same country road down 
which the three cousins had gone, and there 
they saw Aldovrand lying in a meadow watching 
his flock of geese. 

" Good day, my friends," cried he when he 
saw them ; " And how are things going on at the 
palace ? I hope my cousins like reigning better 
than I did. Now, here I lie peacefully all day 
long and watch my geese, and it is much nicer 
than being King." 

Then the Prime Minister and Chancellor 
told him all that had happened, and begged 
that he would come back with them to the 
palace again, but at this Aldovrand laughed 

" Now, here I He peacefully all day long and watch my geese, and it is much nicer thai 
being King." v. 170. 


"No indeed!" cried he, "I would not be 
King again for any man living. You had 
best go and seek my cousin Aldebert, and ask 
him. I saw him go down the road with a 
tinker, helping him to mend his tins. So go 
and ask him, and leave me to mind my geese 
in peace." 

So the Prime Minister, and the Chancellor 
had to seek still farther. 

They trudged on and on, till at last 
they met Aldebert, who sat by the side of 
the road mending a tin kettle, and whistling 

" Heyday, whom have we here ?" cried he. 
"The Prime Minister and the Chancellor! And 
I am right glad to see you both. See how 
clever I have grown ; I am learning to be a 
tinker, and I mended that hole all myself." 

Then the Prime Minister and Chancellor 
begged him to leave his pots, and come back 
to the palace and be King, but he fell to work 
again, harder than ever, and said, 

" No indeed ; go and ask my cousins, who 
are both much cleverer than I. I really don't 


do for it at all, but I make a very good tinker, 
and I like that much better." 

"Then what can we do? "cried the Prime 
Minister, " for we don't know where Alderete 
has gone." 

" I saw him go by here with a sweep a little 
time ago," said Aldebert ; " and he went into 
that farmhouse yonder, so you had best seek 
him there." 

So the Prime Minister and the Chancellor 
went on to the farmhouse. At the door stood 
the farmer's wife, but when they asked her if 
she had seen the King go by, she stared with 

" Nay," said she ; " no one has been here 
but our sweep and his apprentice. He is in 
there sweeping the chimney now." On hear- 
ing this, the Prime Minister and Chancellor 
at once ran into the farmhouse, and saw 
the old sweep standing by the kitchen fire- 
place. " And where is the other sweep ? " 
cried they. "He is gone up the chimney, 
and is just going to begin sweeping," said 
the old man. "So if you want to speak to 


him you must shout." So they shouted and 

" King Alderete, King Alderete !" as loud 
as ever they could, but he did not hear. Then 
the Chancellor knelt in front of the grate, and 
put his head up the chimney, and called, 

" King Alderete, King Alderete ! It is the 
Prime Minister and I, the Chancellor, come to 
fetch your Majesty back to the palace." 

When Alderete heard him up the chimney, 
he trembled in every limb, but he replied, 

"I'm not going to come down ; I don't want 
to be King. I am going to be a sweep, and I 
like that much better. I shan't come down till 
you are gone away, and now you had best go 
quickly, for I am going to begin sweeping, and 
all the soot will fall on your head," and then 
they heard the rattle of the broom in the 
chimney, and a whole shower of soot fell on 
the Chancellor's head. 

The Prime Minister and the Chancellor 
turned back to the city very disconsolately. 
" We must go and look for a King elsewhere," 
they said. " It is no use troubling about 



Aldovrand, Aldebert, and Alderete." So they 
left the one to his geese, and one to his tins, 
and the other to sweep chimneys, and that was 
the end of the three clever Kings. 

NCE upon a time lived a King 
whose wife was dead and who 
had one' little daughter who 
was named Fernanda. She 
was very good and pretty, 
but when she was a child she 
vexed all her ladies by asking them questions 
about everything she saw. 

"Your Highness should not wish to know 
too much," they told her, whereat Princess 
Fernanda threw up her little head, and said, 
" I want to know everything." 
As she grew up she had masters and mis- 
tresses to teach her, and learnt every language 
and every science ; but still she said, " It is not 
enough ; I want to know more." 


In a deep cave underground there lived 
an old Wizard who was so wise that his face 
was well-nigh black with wrinkles, and his long 
white beard flowed to his feet. He knew all 
sorts of magic, and every day and night sat 
poring over his books till now there seemed to 
be nothing left for him to learn. 

One night after every one was asleep, Prin- 
cess Fernanda rose and slipped softly down the 
stairs and out of the palace unheard by any 
one, and stole away to the Wizard's cave. 

The old man was sitting on his low stool 
reading out of an immense book by a dim green 
light, but he raised his eyes as the Princess 
entered at the low doorway, and looked at her. 
She wore a blue and silver robe, but her bright 
hair was unbound, and fell in ripples to her 

" Who are you, and what do you want with 
me ?" he asked shortly. 

" I am the Princess Fernanda," she said, 
"and I wish to be your pupil. Teach me all 
you know." 

" Why do you wish for that ?" said the 


Wizard : " you will not be better or happier 
for it." 

" I am not happy now," said the Princess 
sighing wearily. " Teach me and you shall find 
me an apt pupil, and I will pay you with gold." 

"I will not have your gold," said the Wizard, 
" but come to me every night at this hour, and 
in three years you shall know all I do." 

So every night the Princess went down to 
the Wizard's cave while all the court were sleep- 
ing. And the people wondered at her more 
and more, and said, " How much she knows ! 
How wise she is !" 

When the three years had gone by the 
Wizard said to her, " Go ! I can teach you no 
more now. You are as wise as I." Then the 
Princess thanked him and went back to her 
father s palace. 

She was very wise. She knew the lan- 
guages of all animals. The fishes came from 
the deep at her call, and the birds from the 
trees. She could tell when the winds would 
rise, and when the sea would be still. She 
could have turned her enemies to stone, or 



given untold wealth to her friends. But for all 
that, when she smiled, her lips were very sad, 
and her eyes were always full of care. She 
said she was weary, and her father thought she 
was sick, and would have sent for the physicians, 
but she stopped him. 

" How should physicians help me, my 
father," she said, "seeing that I know more 
than they ?" 

One night, a year after she had taken her 
last lesson from the Wizard, she arose and 
returned to his cave, and he raised his eyes and 
saw her standing before him as formerly. 

"What do you want?" he said. "I have 
taught you all I know." 

"You have taught me much," she said, 
falling on her knees beside him, "yet I am 
ignorant of one thing teach me that also 
how to be happy!' 

" Nay," said the Wizard with a very mourn- 
ful smile ; " I cannot teach you that, for I do not 
know it myself. Go and ask it of them who 
know and are wiser than I." 

Then the Princess left the cave and 

"Then the Princess left the cave and wandered down to the sea-shore." i-. 178. 


wandered down to the sea-shore. All that 
night she spent sitting on a rock that jutted out 
into the sea, watching the wild sky and the moon 
coming and going behind the clouds. The sea 
dashed up around her, and the wind blew, but 
she did not fear them, and when the sun rose 
the waters were still and the wind fell. A sky- 
lark rose from the fields and flew straight up 
to heaven, singing as though his heart would 
burst with pure joy. 

"Surely that bird is happy," said the Princess 
to herself; and she called it in its own tongue. 

"Why do you sing?" she asked. 

" I sing because I am so happy," answered 
the lark. 

"And why are you so happy ?" asked the 

"So happy?" said the lark. "God is so 
good. The sky is so blue, and the fields are so 
green. Is that not enough to make me happy?" 

" Teach me, then, that I may be happy too," 
said Princess Fernanda. 

" I cannot," said the lark ; " I don't know 
how to teach ;" and then he rose, singing, into 


the blue overhead, and Princess Fernanda 
sighed and turned back towards the palace. 

Outside her door she met her little lap-dog, 
who barked and jumped for joy on seeing her. 

" Little dog," she said ; " poor little dog, are 
you so glad to see me? Why are you so 
happy ?" 

"Why am I so happy ?" said the little dog, 
surprised. " I have plenty to eat, and a soft 
cushion to rest upon, and you to caress me. Is 
not it enough to make me happy ?" 

" It is not enough for me," said the Princess, 
sighing ; but the little dog only wagged his tail 
and licked her hand. 

Inside her room was the Princess's favourite 
little maid Doris, folding up her dresses. 

" Doris," she said, " you look very merry. 
Why are you so happy ?" 

" Please your Royal Highness, I am going 
to the fair," answered Doris, "and Luke is to 
meet me there; only," she added, pouting a little, 
" I wish I had a pretty new hat to wear with 
my new dress." 

" Then you are not perfectly happy, so you 


cannot teach me," said Princess Fernanda, and 
then she sighed again. 

In the evening at sunset she arose, and 
went out into the village, and at the door of the 
first cottage to which she came, sat a woman 
nursing a baby, and hushing it to sleep. The 
baby was fat and rosy, and the mother looked 
down at it proudly. 

The Princess stopped, and spoke to her. 

"You have a fine little child there," she 
said. " Surely you must be very happy." 

The woman smiled. 

"Yes," she said, "so I am; only just now 
my goodman is out fishing, and as he's rather 
late, it makes me anxious." 

"Then you could not teach me," said the 
Princess, sighing to herself as she moved away. 
She wandered on till she came to a church, 
which she entered. All was still within, for 
the church was empty ; but before the altar, on 
a splendid bier, lay the body of a young man, 
who had been killed in the war. He was 
dressed in his gay uniform, and his breast was 
covered with medals, and his sword lay beside 


him. He was shot through the heart, but his 
face was peaceful and his lips were smiling. 
The Princess walked to his side, and looked at 
the quiet face. Then she stooped and kissed 
the cold forehead, and envied the soldier. "If 
he could speak," she said, "he surely could 
teach me. No living mouth could ever smile 
like that." Then she looked up and saw a 
white angel standing on the other side of the 
bier, and she knew it was Death. 

"You have taught him," she said, holding 
out her arms. "Will you not teach me to 
smile like that ?" 

" Nay," said Death, pointing to the medals 
on the dead man's breast, " I taught him whilst 
he was doing his duty. I cannot teach you," 
And so saying he vanished from her sight. 

She went out from the church down to the 
sea-shore. There was a high sea, and a great 
wind, a little child had been playing on a row 
of rocks, and had slipped off them into the 
water, and was struggling among the waves, 
and would soon be drowned, for he was beyond 
his depth in the water. 


When the Princess saw him, she plunged 
into the water and swam to where the child 
was, and taking him in her arms, placed him 
safely on the rocks again, but the waves were 
so strong that she could scarcely keep above 
them. As she tried to seize the rocks, she 
saw Death coming over the water towards her, 
and she turned to meet him gladly. 

" Now," said he, clasping her in his arms, 
" I will teach you all you want to know ;" and 

he drew her under the water, and she died. 
* # * # * 

The King's servants found her lying on the 
shore, with her face white and her lips cold, but 
smiling as they had never smiled before, and her 
face was very calm. They carried her home, 
and she was laid out in great state, covered 
with gold and silver. 

" She was so wise," sobbed her little maid, 
as she placed flowers in the cold hand, "she 
knew everything." 

" Not everything," said the skylark from the 
window ; " for she asked me, ignorant though I 
am, to teach her how to be happy." 


" That was the one thing I could not teach, 
her," said the old Wizard, looking at the dead 
Princess's face. " Yet I think now she must 
be wiser than I, and have learned that too. 
For see how she smiles." 

Printed by R. & R. CLARK, Edinburgh.